A Brisbane man has lived the last two years in near constant pain after a workplace incident involving a faulty machine left him with horrific injuries.
Simeon Reynaud, 33, was working on a wall frame machine at work in March 2018 when it malfunctioned, firing multiple nails at him in a matter of seconds. The force at which the nails were fired was so great that one of the nails pierced through two bones in Mr Reynaud’s wrist.
Since the incident he has suffered through debilitating pain, which he says has had a major impact on his life.
“I wake up in the middle of the night with cramps and aching. It will feel like my wrist and fingers are broken or there are stabbing pains or really bad pins and needles,” Mr Reynaud told news.com.au. “It has affected me in every way. I don’t do anything anymore.”
Mr Reynaud had been using the machine for over six months when the incident occurred. He said there were times when timber would pop out of the machine because it was wet or bowed. When this happens the worker had to loosen the part holding the timber and put it back in the correct spot. After the timber was in place and the machine started there was about a two or three second delay before the nails were fired.
“This time I stood back from the machine before it fired and as I did so the timber popped out in the corner,” Mr Reynaud said.
“The nails fired and I saw two of the nails coming for me so I put my hand up to cover my face and one hit my hand and the other went into my wrist.
“The nail hit me. I looked around and saw the nail my arm. I didn’t realise it was there at first until I saw it.”
Mr Reynaud said he alerted another staff member and was taken into the break room. Instead of calling an ambulance he had to wait for someone to come down and drive him to the hospital. He was waiting at the hospital for about eight hours before he was finally put in surgery to remove the nails.
“I couldn’t really feel my arm for about two weeks and then after that the pain started. The pain is still going on now. It goes up and down my arm and can feel like burning, stabbing or pins and needles,” Mr Reynaud said. “At times it feels like my hand is broken or getting crushed. It just drains the energy out of you. It’s pretty horrible.”
He was put through hand therapy but it just seemed to make the pain worse. Mr Reynaud was then sent to a pain clinic and was put on different pain medication over the course of a few months which left him with stomach issues, memory loss and resulted in him being put on suicide watch.
After battling with the pain for almost a year, Mr Reynaud decided to seek out his own treatment. He started on a cannabis trial treatment but two months later his WorkCover payments were cut and it became too expensive for him to continue on his own.
The injury has left the Brisbane man in such pain that he hasn’t been able to work for more than two years. Shine Lawyers is now representing Mr Reynaud in taking legal action against the company.
After the incident Mr Reynaud said the only real communication he had from his boss was a text every three to six months to ask how he was going.
On top of all the pain he was dealing with, Mr Reynaud was dealt another blow when another worker told him a safety mechanism that could have prevented his injury had been removed.
“After this incident happened I got told by another worker who had been in the industry for over 30 years that the workplace had removed safety switches off the machine so they could run it faster,” he said.
“I didn’t even know it used to have safety switches. If those were on it would have automatically shut the machine off when the timber popped out.”
Mr Reynaud said after he was injured, the machine “suddenly disappeared” from the worksite and the company started to build a new one. The Brisbane man said he hasn’t been able to work since the incident because the pain is so debilitating.
“The frustration of the pain reoccurring and coming back just gets to you. I want to work but then the pain comes and you want to push through but it just makes it worse,” he said.
Shine Lawyers Solicitor, Carla Melbourne, said this was a “shocking case of an employer failing to properly service a powerful piece of machinery which has malfunctioned and landed a young man in hospital”.
“This is simply not good enough especially given the machine had a history of playing up and near misses. Management knew of the risk of injury and knowingly placed Simeon in danger,” she said.
“All employers have an obligation to provide a safe place and system of work for their employees. This includes providing appropriate and functioning machinery. Simeon has not been provided with a safe place and system of work, he has been forced to pay the price ever since the accident including suffering from chronic pain in his arm.”
Ms Melbourne said in the two years since the incident happened Mr Reynaud has struggled to cope and it has had a significant impact on his mental health.
“I urge employers who are looking to save a buck by reducing maintenance costs to consider the human impact of this action. People should come before profits, however time and time again we see workers injured as a result of employers negligence,” he said.