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Dental technician electrocuted by faulty equipment

A dental technician was electrocuted by faulty equipment at work, leaving him with ligament damage to his fingers, and muscle damage to his hand and foot.

Mr Sullivan worked at a lab in Doncaster making plaster moulds for dentures. He and several of his colleagues had raised concerns with the owners of the lab about a Burco boiler that was directly underneath a bank of 3 double plug sockets.

Mr Sullivan said: “The fuse had blown a number of times, probably because water or steam was getting into the sockets above the boilers. Despite complaining to the owners and the fact that the power in the entire building went off each time, nothing was done.

“The weekend before my accident, some tiling work had been done on the back wall behind the boilers. A colleague and I had the job of putting the boilers back in place before we started work. The plug sockets above the boilers were also used for an extractor fan, a kettle and a radio.

“Once the boilers were back in place, I pushed the switch on the plug socket to turn it on. There was a big spark that hit my left ring finger. It travelled up my left arm, across my chest, down my body, right leg and then out of my right foot. This all happened in a matter of seconds. I was thrown back about 5ft. My colleague heard the noise and came to see what was happening.

“The owners called an electrician to have a look at the sockets but didn’t call for an ambulance or arrange any medical treatment for me. When I told my boss I was in agony, his response was “You only have 5 ½ hours to work before you can go home”.

The electrician found that there was only one earth wire running through all 3 sockets. He said it was likely the sockets were overloaded as each socket should have had its own earth wire. However, the electrician thought that it was strange all the power in the building went off and suggested that there might be a more serious underlying issue.

Mr Sullivan explained: “At first I thought I’d escaped serious injury, but I began to suffer increasing pain and discomfort and went to see my GP.

“I had blisters on my finger, soft tissue injuries to 2 fingers, and ligament and muscle damage to my left arm, left hand, right side of my chest, right leg and right foot. The burns were mainly on my fingers and right foot. The accident also aggravated an old back injury that I had suffered with since I was born.

“Even after treatment, I suffered with fatigue, nausea and flashbacks for many weeks. I couldn’t sleep properly and had ongoing back pain.

“I did try to carry on working for a couple of weeks after the accident, but the pain became too much and about 3 weeks later I had to go to A&E at Doncaster Infirmary. Once the wounds have healed properly, it’s likely that I will need skin grafts.

“Besides my lost wages, I haven’t been able to get back to playing football. Socialising with my family and friends and spending time with my partner have also been affected”.

Stephen Bradley-Watson, personal injury solicitor at Atherton Godfrey, commented: “Mr Sullivan has been left with tendon damage, muscle damage, lacerations, burns and blisters. He is unable to bend the last 3 fingers on his left hand because of the scarring and is unlikely to ever regain dexterity in those fingers.

“As is common in these cases, Mr Sullivan found that the cumulative effect of his injuries resulted in a complete change in his lifestyle, impacting on the overall quality of his life. He went from being employed and having a number of interests outside work, to being unable to work and very limited in what he could do.”

Mr Sullivan added: “My doctor has said that I was very lucky to be alive, but I might never be able to return to work. This has made me rather depressed, which in turn has caused a strain in my relationships”.

Mr Bradley-Watson added: “I am delighted we were able to recover a significant amount of compensation which will help Mr Sullivan get his life back on track.”

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