Dan Davey. Photo Melanie Plane/The Morning Bulletin
Dan Davey. Photo Melanie Plane/The Morning Bulletin Melanie Plane

Rocky father claiming $750,000 after workplace amputation

IMAGINE having an itchy fingertip, but no fingertip there to scratch.

Rockhampton man Dan Davey doesn't have to imagine it, it's an every day reality since he lost a finger in a workplace accident in 2014.

May 23 will mark two years since the 28-year-old father's life changed forever.

While conducting a routine procedure in his role as a diesel fitter at Anglo America's Dawson Central mine near Moura, Mr Davey said half of his right-hand pointer finger was amputated.

"I was working on a dragline doing a hoist rope change out and we use winch tuggers," Mr Davey said.

"The winch rope pulled in to the guide rollers and the operator knocked it away and when I grabbed the front of the rope it shot straight back through the guide roller and amputated my finger straight away.

"I sent a couple of blokes to go looking for it (his finger). We tried to keep it but the damage to the bone was too bad, it was split into two pieces and the fingertip was completely shattered.

"There was too much bone damage to even consider putting it back on."

Nearly two years down the track Mr Davey's wound has healed, but he said the stump left behind causes him constant pain, discomfort and difficulty.

"I've had to learn how to do everything again. Even now that it is healed there are all sorts of complications like vibrations and what not," he said.

"A simple task of just mowing the lawn as blokes like to do is very hard, you hold tongs different now and sometimes you juggle things.

"At work I bump it and it causes me pain. I still get phantom pains, as we speak I have an itchy finger tip.

"The worst one is when I feel like I have something stuck under my fingernail, I just can't shake it.

"Coming into winter is going to be really bad, I struggle with the cold; it turns purple on me because of how small it is and the different blood flow."

The constant difficulties have led Mr Davey to strongly consider further amputation in a bid to increase the functionality of his hand.

That's just part of the reason why he lodged a $750,000 compensation claim through Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Rockhampton yesterday afternoon.

"I'm thinking of further amputation. It's a massive call. It's a hard call to make when your 28 and think 'I'm just going to take a piece of me off'," he said.

"I have a functional hand now but there's a high possibility of having a better functioning hand without the chance of bumping that."

While Mr Davey was lucky enough to have kept his job with Anglo America as a full-time diesel fitter despite the injury, he said the unpredictability of the mining industry was another factor in his decision to seek compensation.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Melissa Meyers said Mr Davey originally got in contact with the compensation and injury firm to discuss his options.

"He's made a claim for his injury and the largest component of that is the future for him, so future economic loss," Ms Meyers said.

"Reasons that claims of this kind are quite significant is that he's 28 and has a significant working future ahead of him which he has to account for.

"He's looking after his son financially as well and so whilst Dan's really fortunate to be where he is still in his employment and they're taking good care of him, if he was unlucky enough to end up on the open labour market we say that he'd be very disadvantaged.

"It's not an injury he can hide, it's a very obvious injury to his dominant hand, and he's going to be competing against other diesel fitters that don't have an injury.

Through no fault of his own he might end up on the open labour market and there are a lot of diesel fitters out there.

"He's also got the risk of course of going ahead with this surgery, taking a lot of time off and all the extensive rehab that's going to be required if he has the further amputation.

"The cost of the surgery of course is included in there and the rehab into the future. We're hoping it would involve a functional improvement but there are no guarantees."

Ms Meyers said ultimately, Maurice Blackburn hoped to resolve the matter by negotiation rather than fronting court.

Mr Davey said Anglo America had been extremely understanding and supportive throughout the ordeal.

"They gave me a light duties role when I was able to turn up to work, I used to have nurses offside dressing my wounds, they were doing a lot for me," he said.

"They let me go back on the tools and helped me out with other problems I had psychologically.

"They have been amazing with helping and they understand. I couldn't ask for a better workplace to work for."

At the end of the day, Mr Davey said he hoped to remain independent and live a positive life.

"As bad as it is to happen to anyone, it's better to happen to someone who is quite positive," he said.

"I'd hate to see a mate of mind go through it and be depressed and lose everything.

"I've always been pretty positive about it and I need my little boy to see that dad is still good and can do things."

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