Client pursuing head injury claim after life changing injuries

31 Aug 2021 | Ben Posford

A young woman has told of the moment she was completely scalped and lost her ear when her hair became entangled in a rotating drill at work.

Anna Mielewczyk, 25, feared she was going to die when she felt her skin being forced from her head ‘like a tape ripping’ while working at a metal parts company.

P&D Engineering Ltd in Coventry, West Midlands, was found guilty of failing to fit guards around the rotating drill after an investigation by The Health and safety Executive and were fined £62,334.

Anna, who has had 14 operations after all of her muscles in her head and skin were pulled off in the accident, said she is angry that her former employees received such a small fine after the incident which has ruined her life.

Anna said: “My life has been devastated by what happened to me, yet my employer can get away with a fine of £62,000. How is that justice? My boss will carry on with his life, but I will have to deal with the results of the accident forever. I used to love life, was always active but now I feel like I am a prisoner in my own home as I am scared to go out looking like I do.”

Recalling the accident in September 2019 Anna said she will never forget the haunting sound after she became caught in the machine.

She said: “I was working by myself and there was a loud crash from one of the machines and turned my head suddenly. My hair must have got caught in one of the drills as it started to pull my head quite fiercely. I tried to yank my hair out of the drill by grabbing my ponytail in desperation and panic, but the machine was going so fast there was nothing I could do to resist it. I couldn’t reach the handle to turn it off and started to hear the horrific sound of my skin being ripped from my head, like a tape being pulled away from skin. It is a sound I will never forget.

“I was screaming for help but there was too much noise from the machines and at that point I thought I was going to die. I thought about how I was never going to see my partner and family again and lost consciousness.”

Anna was eventually discovered by colleagues several minutes later covered in blood and still attached to the whirring machine. She was unable to open her eyes because there was too much blood on her face and was rushed to hospital.

Anna added: “When I woke up my family were with me. They were all crying and I could see how scared they were. The doctors explained that I had lost all of the skin, muscles and hair on my head, my eyebrows and one of my ears in the accident. I remember saying ‘So I look like a monster’ and started to cry.”

Anna currently has three ‘skin expander’ balloons underneath her skin to grow further skin for grafts to her head.

Anna said: “When I looked in the mirror months later I didn’t recognise myself. I was happy to be alive, but the person looking back at me wasn’t me. I am still scared that I won’t ever look anything like I used to in the future. Alongside the visible injuries – my head, neck and cheek being deformed – I have also lost the feeling in my head. I am not able to anticipate the top of my head in relation to other objects and am prone to hitting and cutting my head on various occasions. Also, a slight itch can turn into a bloody wound. Despite the rehabilitation and exercises I do regularly, the skin on my neck and head is still very tight and numb and will be for a long time. Every turn causes discomfort and sometimes pain.

“Due to the accident and all the treatments I have had, I feel like an elderly person despite all the rehabilitation and rest that has taken place over the last year, my therapist has reported that my muscles and soft tissue have been through an enormous trauma. They will need a great deal of manipulating to return to their normal position. The entire area of skin and muscles on the neck and head is combined with the pain in my back and shoulder blades. Sometimes I find it difficult to breathe when I am lying on my back and front. I feel like my whole body needs fixing.”

Ben Posford, Partner and Head of Catastrophic Injury at London law firm Osbornes Law, said: “Anna has suffered the most horrific injuries and is lucky to have survived this terrible incident all because her employer did not have the correct health and safety procedures in place. This case should offer a stark warning to all employers to have the correct measures in place to avoid another incident like this ruining anybody else’s lives. My client is understandably upset that her former employer was given such a negligible fine and we will be pursuing them through the courts to get her some semblance of justice.”

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