An engineer who had his arm sliced off by a wind turbine “like a guillotine” has won a compensation payout expected to be more than £1 million.
Darren Hoadley, 42, was checking the bearings in the mechanism that spins the blades when the rotating machine “traumatically amputated” his left arm in June 2018, the High Court in London was told.
Mr Hoadley, from Norfolk, sued his employer, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, claiming the accident could have been avoided had he known the machinery’s power source had not been deactivated.
Judge Richard Davison found the company mostly to blame at the High Court and awarded Mr Hoadley compensation, which lawyers say is likely to be more than £1 million.
However, the amount, which will be decided at a later date, will be reduced by a third after the judge ruled Mr Hoadley was also partly to blame.
The accident occurred while the engineer was checking parts in a “nacelle” pod attached to the top of the turbine’s upright body and close to the hub around which the blades turned.
He had reached his arm through a hole in the turbine brake disc to check a series of safety pins.
Mr Hoadley told the court: “It was fine, but then I realised I could not move my arm. I then realised the disc was still moving slowly and I was going to lose my arm.”
Describing the accident, the judge said: “The stationary single blade mounting tool, immediately behind the brake disc, acted as a guillotine which traumatically amputated his left arm.”
The judge praised Mr Hoadley’s “courage and presence of mind” in being able to get out of the dark and cramped confines of the pod immediately after his injury.
“The key features of the accident are that the claimant thought that the brake disc was locked and immobilised and that the power was off,” he said. “He therefore thought he was safe in what he was doing, but both assumptions were incorrect.”
The judge ruled that Siemens Gamesa were at fault because other technicians working in the pod had previously turned on the power without properly alerting colleagues.
But he said of Mr Hoadley: “On this occasion, he failed to live up to his reputation as Mr Safety. He failed to involve his installation lead. He failed to plan.
“He was working alone when he should not have been. Lastly, he assumed what he should not have assumed without checking.”
Mr Hoadley was judged one-third to blame for his injuries, which means he will recover two thirds of whatever damages award is ultimately allocated.
The court heard he had feared his working life was over, but after being fitted with a prosthetic arm, he was able to resume his job, undergoing a series of gruelling safety and competence tests, including sea survival, helicopter rescue and working at heights.
At the end of his ruling, the judge commended Siemens Gamesa for their post-accident reaction and for ushering in “immediate and effective reforms to their equipment and procedures”.