South Shields man still has nightmares over workplace accident

John Dennis has been left disabled after an accident at work. Picture: TOM BANKS
John Dennis has been left disabled after an accident at work. Picture: TOM BANKS
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A former machinist who was seriously injured in a workplace accident says he still has nightmares about the day that changed his life forever.

South Shields man John Dennis was working for Renown Oils and Gas Ltd in Washington when a component, weighing 1.6 tonnes, fell on him.

“I used to go fishing and take the dog out for long walks. I can’t do anything like that now.”

John Dennis

The accident - which happened on January 19, 2015 - left him with a shattered foot which needed pins and screws in serted, and two broken legs.

The 66-year-old, who was hospitalised for three weeks after the accident, said: “I still get flashbacks. If I hadn’t moved as quick as I did, I wouldn’t be here now.

“It has been so hard. I’ve been unable to work and I may still need more operations on my foot.

“I am still in so much pain, especially with my left ankle. It is worse first thing in the morning, sometimes it takes twenty painful minutes after I’ve woken up until I can move it.”

He added: “I am also struggling with depression. I was a very active man before the accident but, being stuck at home due to my injuries, I feel I am losing my independence.

“I used to go fishing and take the dog out for long walks. I can’t do anything like that now. My life has changed forever.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the bolts on the jaws of a vertical boring maching - which was holding the component in place - were made of mild steel - not high tensile steel as they should have been.

The HSE also advised Renown Oil & Gas Ltd there was no escape route available for the person controlling the machine, due to the control panel being against a wall.

Following the HSE investigation, all bolts on machines at the firm’s Washington site were replaced with high tensile bolts.

The firm also knocked through the wall, the control panel is against to provide an escape route for the controller should issues arise again.

Newcastle law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing Mr Dennis, is currently in talks with his former employer’s insurance firm in a bid to secure a further interim payment while he awaits compensation.