Worker gets $290,000 for crushed limb

A worker whose left hand was crushed between the rotating rollers of a print machine was awarded $290,00 in damages by the High Court.

Judicial Commissioner George Wei recorded the judgment sum, which was agreed by both parties on Tuesday at the start of what was to have been a two-day trial to settle the civil suit.

The incident occurred on Nov 30 last year at the Joo Koon Crescent premises of NSC Printing and Packaging Industries.

It appeared to be a freak mishap. Mr Yuan Chuanshu, 33, was stepping down from a raised platform to the work floor when he slipped and fell backwards.

To break his fall, he stretched out his left hand to grab a metal bar in front of the press machine, but it got caught between the rollers of the press, which pulled it in, crushing his hand between the rotating rollers.

"I vaguely recall shouting out as my mind went 'blank'. I did not know what had happened after that as I was in a state of daze and stupor," he said in court documents filed. A colleague nearby who heard his screams pressed the emergency stop button to halt the machines.

Mr Yuan had on a pair of slippers at the time of the accident as he had taken off his own wet canvas shoes to dry, following a heavy downpour on his way to work.

Civil Defence officers who arrived at the scene used a jack to force apart the rollers to release his mangled forearm. He was taken to the National University Hospital, where his left arm had to be amputated near his shoulder.

Mr Yuan returned to his village near Huai'an city in Jiangsu province after completing treatment early this year and is now jobless because of his disability.

In the court documents, his lawyer, Mr N. Srinivasan, sought compensation for the loss of his future earnings, saying his job prospects in China were extremely bleak.

Mr Yuan can no longer do manual labour in cities, the only openings there for unskilled workers like himself, he said. A deal was reached with lawyer K. Anparasan for the firm's insurer.

Mr Yuan's alleged contributory negligence, given his work experience as a print machine operator with the company since 2007, was factored into the deal. He had sought more than $500,000 in damages in the suit.

A Manpower Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday the incident was investigated and enforcement action was taken against the company.

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