A factory worker at Burtech Industries Limited in Mowe, Ogun State, Samuel Uduedu, is battling an injury he sustained while at work.
The company specialises in the production of laboratory equipment as well as furniture and fittings for educational institutions.
It was learnt that part of Uduedu’s middle finger was chopped off by a press bending machine he was using to compress pieces of roofing sheets.
The victim blamed the incident on the lack of safety measures at workplace, lamenting that the firm was indifferent to his condition.
Uduedu told City Round that he was operating the machine on November 18, 2019 when he mistakenly pressed it on his finger.
He said the management took him to a nurse within the vicinity and he was given first aid treatment.
The native of Delta State, who said the management gave him two days off for the injury to heal, explained that disagreement ensued when he told them he would need more days and that he should be given some money so he could properly treat the wound.
He recalled, “While I was operating the hydraulic press bending machine to bend a roofing sheet, I didn’t know my middle finger was on the machine surface and part of the finger was cut off. I reported to the administration officer and he asked some people to take me to a nurse who gave me first aid treatment.
“The administration officer said I would be given two days off and I told him that it might not be enough. I told him I didn’t have money and asked the company to give me money to treat the injury. He asked if I was not being paid salary and that the injury was caused by my carelessness. He said they would mark me absent if I spend more than two days and that they would not pay me.”
The 39-year-old man stated that he reported the case to a human rights group in Ibafo, which took him to a private hospital, Divine Touch Hospital.
“The company did not care for me at all. Two persons are supposed to be operating that machine and I have complained to the management several times. They kept on promising to get me a partner. When I tell them I am tired and want to rest, they won’t allow me,” he added.
A medical report tagged ‘Re: Uduedu Samuel’ by the hospital signed by one Dr Odofin A. B. and obtained by our correspondent indicated that the injury was brought to the hospital poorly treated.
“The above named was brought to our facility on account of poorly treated traumatic injury to his left middle finger resulting in the amputation of the distal half of the distal-third of his middle finger.
“There was sloughing of the wound which was removed and the wound dressed in antibiotics impregnated gauze,” it read.
Our correspondent learnt that a lawyer wrote to the company on behalf of Uduedu, demanding N50m compensation.
A spokesperson for the company, who declined to give his name, however, absolved it of any wrongdoing, saying that appropriate safety measures were put in place.
He said a preliminary investigation showed that Uduedu wounded himself “deliberately,” insisting that the machine could not have inflicted the injury.
The official stated that the machine was not sharp and moved slowly subject to the control of the operator.
He stated, “The machine is used for bending pieces of iron sheets and is manually operated. It is not likely his hand would be in a position where the machine would injure him. He has been operating that kind of machine for more than one year. Further investigation showed that he has been very troublesome.
“There were more than 15 workers there and nobody saw him. Nevertheless, he was taken to a clinic for first aid treatment. If after the (two-day) sick leave and it doesn’t heal, he will still be coming to work but he might not work.
“Some days later, he went to the clinic and asked the nurse to give him some drugs for his children and add the bill to the account of the company but the nurse refused. He also asked the administration officer to give him some money. The officer said he was being paid salary and that the company was responsible for the cost of treatment.
“He then threatened to sue the company and got a lawyer who wrote to the company, demanding N50m. The company has rules and since he has abandoned his job, he will be treated as such.”
The official said the nurse did not recommend that Uduedu should be taken to a hospital because his condition did not warrant such, adding that the firm had adequate arrangements for workers’ health.
“So, saying that he had to treat himself somewhere else is a lie. The report about him is that he encourages other workers to rebel against their managers or supervisors and generate problems. It is not true that two persons are supposed to operate the machine,” he added.
In his reaction, Uduedu said the company was making up stories to exonerate itself from the damage to his finger.