Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Injury costs man his job

Glenn Abel with the piece of glass that nearly killed him. Photo / John Cowpland
Glenn Abel with the piece of glass that nearly killed him. Photo / John Cowpland

One wrong step caused a horrific workplace accident which nearly took a man's life - and has now cost him his livelihood and will soon cost him his house.

Glenn Abel, 61, believes incorrect information supplied to Accident Compensation Corporation by his employer and an ACC assessor cost him his job. With no financial support he has to sell an investment property and may yet lose his family home.

Abel was helping a colleague move a sheet of glass at Napier Glass when it is believed he tripped and fell on to a old pane of glass stacked in a rack.

A 15cm shard of glass lodged in Abel's throat, cutting his tongue in half and embedding into the roof of his mouth. Another piece almost severed his right arm and sliced his ear off, shredding it into five pieces.

He still has four pieces of glass in his shoulder, which he believes are causing pain but doctors will not remove.

Paperwork provided to ACC stated his job was mostly administrative - which he disputed.

"My biggest complaint is the ACC-appointed physiotherapist and the boss did a deal and said my work was 90 per cent 'admin' and 10 per cent 'other'," Abel said.

"I was shafted," Abel said.

ACC encouraged Abel to return to work and his employer gave an assurance the physical work would be covered by other employers.

But three months later - just seven months after the accident - he was told he was losing his job.

When dismissing Abel employer Peter Mickleson blamed quiet business and Abel's injuries: "There are tasks which you are clearly unable to perform since your accident earlier this year, which in hindsight suggests you weren't ready to return," Mickleson stated in the letter.

Mickleson told the Herald on Sunday he stood by his claim that Abel's job was mostly administrative.

Abel believes the over-emphasis on the administrative side of his role meant he was encouraged to go back to work too early - and then fired when he couldn't perform.

"I'm right handed and it was my right arm that was injured, so my writing is shocking."

Since losing his job, Mr Abel has lodged a request to again receive weekly compensation as a result of being unable to work, ACC senior media advisor Stephanie Melville says.

"His own specialist operating surgeon has recently cleared him as fit to return to work doing light administrative duties. However, ACC will always look at new medical information when it is made available."

Mr Abel continues to receive full support for all of his medical and rehabilitation treatment.

Abel has applied for 20 jobs since Christmas - including administrative work at ACC.

Napier Glass was not charged because a Worksafe investigation found it had not broken the law.

- Herald on Sunday

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