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Man who lost four fingers in factory accident 'holds no grudge' against firm

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A young man, who lost four fingers in a factory accident for which his employer was fined £400,000, insisted today: "I do not hold a grudge against them."

Al Ghazi Sulaiman was 18 years old and had just finished a three-and-a-half year mechanical engineering apprenticeship when disaster struck at Sankey Laminations in Anchor Lane, Bilston.

His right hand was dragged into contact with a rotating lathe while using emery cloth to reduce the size of metal rods.

The firm admitted two breaches of health and safety regulations in relation to the process when it appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court last week.

Mr Sulaiman, now 22 and living in Rowley Regis, recalled: "It ripped my hand apart.

"The team leader heard my screams, came to my aid and told me not to look at the hand. That was when I knew it was serious."

He was taken to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance but remembers nothing more until the next morning.

"My fingers were still on my hand when I woke and I thought I was OK until I saw they were blue. The doctors confirmed they were dead and would have to be amputated," explained the victim.

Surgery followed and he was discharged four days later.

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Mr Sulaiman, who has a prosthetic hand 'for looks,' said: "I am quite a confident person and bounced back quick and strong.

"It hit me hard a couple of months later when I realised I had not been dealing with it.

"I struggled for a long time, sitting at home with depression and had to go to therapy but have now learned to live with it."

Almost a year after the October 2014 accident he started a phased return to Sankey Laminations working on the laser programme but three months later was among 40 staff made redundant.

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He then spent more than 12 months hunting for a job before beginning work at a mobile casino company in Halesowen a few weeks ago.

"I have got to start all over again but I am getting there slowly but surely. I have coped with this better than 90 per cent of people would have," he continued.

"I am alright now but that does not alter the fact that the injury changed.

"It happened just as I was about to benefit from the apprenticeship I had completed on a sandwich course doing one day a week at college and the rest with the company."

A civil works claim by him against Sankey Laminations has still to be settled.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard last week the firm did not realised official guidance identifying the dangers of using emery cloth for the job had been issued ten years before Mr Sulaiman was injured.

Mr Harpreet Sandhu, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, told Wolverhampton Crown Court there had been a 'serious and systemic failure' to assess risk.

He continued: "This had been allowed to persist for several years and it was through luck that no incidents of this magnitude had occurred earlier."

Mr Mark Balysz, defending, maintained: "Their failure fell through the net of an otherwise good health and safety system. It was not highly likely that this incident would occur."

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