Knowledge base

Degloving and Mechanical Entanglement Injury Compensation

Mechanical structures such as rotating shafts, belt pulley systems, sprockets and cables pose a significant risk of injury by entrapment and entanglement. Incidents involving machinery can result in physical damage ranging from minor cuts to catastrophic or fatal injuries.

Degloving and mechanical entanglement injuries

Between 2000 and 2010, at least 92 deaths resulted from people becoming trapped in and between machines in Australia (excluding WA).

The age group most at risk for injuries involving machinery is 50 to 59 years and approximately 25 per cent of fatalities involving machinery allegedly occur while performing maintenance or repairs on machines.

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Types of mechanical entanglement injuries

Becoming entrapped or entangled with a mechanical device may cause:

  • Degloving injuries: where an extensive section of skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, severing blood supply, usually affecting extremities and limbs;
  • Crush injuries: occurs where machinery traps and squashes a body part with extreme force resulting in significant tissue, skeletal and structural damage and bleeding;
  • Fractures: bones are cracked or completely broken in one or more places;
  • Lacerations: skin is penetrated by blades and sharp edges;
  • Head injuries: fractures, concussion and brain injuries due to blunt force trauma;
  • Burns or scalds: destruction of skin and tissue cells due to exposure to extreme heat;
  • Bruising: pooling of blood under the skin’s surface often as a result of trauma;
  • Electric shocks: electricity passes through the body causing burns and internal organ damage.
  • Finger injuries: Lost fingertips and ring avulsion caused by hands getting entangled in machinery.

Common mechanisms of injury involving machinery

Ring avulsion degloving injury

A person may be seriously injured or killed by machinery in a number of ways:

  • Entrapment: parts of your body such as fingers, toes, or a limb become caught in moving parts of machinery;
  • Impact: moving equipment strikes a person in the body or head, such as a pulley or forklift tines;
  • Entanglement: clothing, jewellery or long hair becoming entangled in machinery;
  • Ejection: objects or parts are ejected or thrown from a machine resulting from faults or lack of maintenance on machines;
  • Contact: body comes into contact with hot engine or machine parts, live electrical objects or sharp edges due to poor training or failure to use appropriate protective equipment.

Injured by machinery - can I claim compensation?

You may be able to claim compensation for an injury if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.

I suffered a mechanical degloving injury at work - can I claim compensation?

If you suffer injuries as a result of working with machinery, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

  • providing safe systems of work;
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment;
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.
Factory and safety systems to work

If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.

Note: Weekly WorkCover payments operate under a separate ‘no fault’ scheme, meaning that you can receive weekly payments to cover lost income even if your injury was not because of your employer’s negligence.

Jeff sustains two compound fractures to his arm and serious hand injuries while sweeping with a hand brush under a machine in operation. He reaches under a belt and pulley system on the machine with his hand brush when his hand is caught and pulled into the moving parts. Although there is a safety guard on the machine it did not sufficiently cover the hazard and some of the moving parts were not guarded at all. Jeff’s employer had not instituted safety protocols requiring machines to be switched off before any cleaning around them is undertaken. Jeff can claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries. 
Rick sustains a crush injury to his hand when moving mechanical parts catch his bracelet and pull his hand into a rotating shaft. Rick’s employer prohibits the wearing of any jewellery and loose clothing to work to minimise risk associated with entanglement. Rick is aware of the rule but ignores it. Rick would not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

Professions at risk for mechanical injuries  

Trades at risk of suffering mechanical entanglement injuries

Jobs at higher risk for mechanical injuries include those in the mining, manufacturing, industrial, construction and farming industries.

I was injured by machinery at someone else’s property - can I claim compensation?

Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury. This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.

Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface surface or tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site. If this occurs to you, it's best to speak directly to a public place injury lawyer.

Examples: Jeff sustains a severe crushing injury on a theme park ride when his boat tips and he becomes caught in moving mechanical parts. An unmaintained malfunctioning belt was found to be responsible for the boat tipping. Jeff is able to claim compensation for his injuries because the theme park negligently failed to maintain the ride. 
Rachel sustains a degloving injury to her finger when she accidentally gets it caught in the moving luggage carousel at the airport while trying to free her caught luggage strap. There are signs warning guests to keep their hands free of the moving parts of the carousel. Rachel cannot claim compensation for her injury since the airport was not negligent.

Potential long term impacts of mechanical injuries

Crutches and long term impact of mechanical injuries

Degloving injuries may need to be treated with multiple reconstruction and skin graft surgeries. Initial recovery can be lengthy and secondary complications such as infection may be encountered. Lower limb degloving injuries can present serious complications if mismanaged.

Crush injuries often require amputation of the affected area which often results in phantom pain and nerve disruption for many years. Amputations may limit mobility, a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day functions and activities and can reduce employment prospects.

The impact of visible disfigurations due to scarring and amputations is significant and can lead to clinical depression and other psychological conditions.

I was injured by machinery - what can I claim for?

General damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injury. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating. 

For example an extreme lower body crush injury resulting in amputation of both legs may be rated between 60 to 75 having a monetary range of $169,700 to $232,600 whereas a minor hand injury may only attract an ISV of between 0 to 5 with a monetary range of $0 to $6,950 depending on the extent.

Medical costs

Hospital care after degloving accident

To treat and diagnose and treat your injuries you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain scans, take pain medications use special medical apparatus such as a wheelchair. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation. You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Degloving, crushing or fracture injuries may require surgical procedures to reconstruct damaged structures or to apply skin grafts. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Rehabilitating after a serous injury may involve intensive therapies as well as home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you sustain a severe injury you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income. 

If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.

Loss of superannuation

Loss of superannuation and lost income claim

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care & assistance

Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury, you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.

In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.


Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any out of pocket expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

How will my compensation be determined?

Compensation for degloving and mechanical entanglement injuries

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.

The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation;
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time;
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury;
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater a impact from their injuries;
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries.

What time limits apply to a degloving and mechanical entanglement claim?

Time limits that apply to start a degloving claim

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.

In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

What to do if you have suffered injuries from machinery

Talking to an expert lawyer

Depending on the nature of your injuries and the circumstances that caused them, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.

Strict time limits apply - seek legal advice ASAP - In most circumstances, the time limit to start a compensation claim is 3 years from the date of incident. Some processes need to be started much sooner. Seek expert legal advice ASAP. Call us on 1800 266 801 or start a live chat.

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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