Thompsons Solicitors has secured compensation for a former machine operator after he was badly injured while trying to clean a conveyor belt. He has been left with permanent physical and psychiatric injuries.

James Crabb, 30, was employed at the Suffolk-based farming and vegetable packing business, Fredrick Haim, and was cleaning a potato machine, removing the accumulated mud off the machine and the conveyor belt.

James had received no training from his employer on how to do the job safely and was cleaning a build-up of mud on the machine’s rollers when his glove got caught between them. As a result, his hand and arm, up to his elbow, was dragged into the machine.

James’ arm was trapped in the machine for an hour and a half while paramedics came by helicopter to help him. He was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and had emergency surgery on his right hand and arm.

He spent nine days in hospital, five of which were in intensive care, and had a further three operations to repair damage to his arm and hand. James suffered ripped tendons, a broken thumb, fractured wrist and skin and muscle injuries.

He now has permanent loss of grip in his right hand and has psychiatric issues as a result of the trauma he has been through.

James has been left unable to carry on working manually and after two years without work he has started working in IT which has been a complete career change.

James said: “My life has been turned upside down because of the accident. Simple, everyday things like gripping my house keys can be really difficult and I have extensive scarring from my hand up to my elbow. I suffer from flashbacks where I develop an irrational anxiety about trapping myself in some way – this can be caused by something as minor as closing a window.

“After the injury I was job hunting for two years and during this time I suffered a few bouts of depression. I do, however, feel very fortunate to have retrained and started a new job.”

Following his accident, he got in touch with Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

James added: “Throughout my ordeal Thompsons Solicitors have kept me informed and aware of everything that was happening, I really cannot fault them. The settlement has helped me financially and allowed me to put a deposit down on a house - it’s enabled me to start to rebuild my future.”

Kam Singh, accident at work specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “James’ injury could have been prevented through training and by fitting the machine with guards, pretty straight forward stuff you would have thought.

“Fredrick Haim should have taken its health and safety responsibilities seriously and considered the danger it was putting employees in when tasking them to do skilled jobs without sufficient training. James’ has worked very hard to retrain and get on with what will be long term challenges and we are pleased to have played some part in enabling him to do so.”