Work Injury News
Posted: November 1st, 2018
A factory employee who fell to the ground and sustained a severe ankle injury when he tried to move a trapped bin has been awarded €224,000 factory injury compensation at the High Court.
Tomasz Zdejszy was working at a waste collection business when he sustained permanent damage to his ankle. He dropped nine feet to the ground on April 2012 at the business park in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 when the accident occurred.
While passing judgement Justice Michael Hanna said that the 37-year-old man had mounted a waste paper container to try and release a bin by kicking it. The Judge said that Mr Zdejszy had started to climb down from the position due to becoming wary of the height. At this point a colleague passed him a metal bar to help with dislodging the bin.
In his factory injury compensation action against his employer Stewart Foil Ltd, Tomasz alleged that there had been a failure to ensure the safe and proper removal of an obstacle to waste collection without the need for Mr Zdejszy to work at a dangerous height.
In his compensation action taken against Panda Waste Services, he alleged that he was required to remove or move a rubbish bin on a waste container while operating at a height. He also claimed that he was provided an inappropriate implement, a metal bar, to do this.
Justice Hanna found there was twenty per cent contributory negligence on the part of Mr Zdejszy as he did not use sufficient care in relation to his own safety. He ruled that Stewart Foil Ltd were 66% to blame and Panda Waste Services 33% in relation to the accident.
Judge Hanna informed the High Court that Mr Zdejszy had sustained a typical injury for this type of fall, with a severe break of the right side of his foot, reaching into his ankle joint. This fracture led to him developing arthritis on the joint, which needed surgical fusion. Mr Zdejszy experienced permanent loss of movement in his ankle, a loss of heel height of around one an inch on the injured side and has been left suffering ongoing pain.
Posted: July 20th, 2018
The High Court has approved a finding that a hotel worker who got into an altercation with his managing director in relation to the removal of rubbish was unfairly dismissed. Along with this a compensation figure of €32,178 along has been awarded by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton ruled the investigative/disciplinary meeting lead to the dismissal of Eugene Young from Castle Durrow Country House Hotel in Durrow, Co Laois, was fundamentally flawed, contrary to natural justice and the also the hotel’s own policy.
Judge Barton upheld a finding of the Circuit Court that Mr Young had been unfairly dismissed from his position. The High Court is set to rule late in relation to the award and costs. The initial finding had been appealed by Towerbrook Ltd, trading as Castle Durrow Country House Hotel, had appealed the EAT and Circuit Court decisions.
Mr Justice Barton said the case arose out of an incident on the busy June bank holiday weekend in 2013 when a considerable amount of rubbish was generated and which was deposited at the rear of the hotel, near the kitchen.
Mr Young, who had been employed as a general handyman for the previous 13 years, decided to remove rubbish for collection prior to the normal 11am time slot, so as not to disturb any guests, as it was blocking a kitchen entrance and preventing entry to the kitchen. He did so at 9.45am.
That morning the food had to be delivered by 9.45am but the kitchen entrance was blocked by the rubbish which meant he couldn’t load the food. Mr Young decided to remove the rubbish although he knew it was hotel policy not to do so until after 11am so as not to disturb guests.
The managing director heard what was taking place and remonstrated with Mr Young which led to an altercation between the two parties. The exact nature of the altercation, and the physicality that occurred was disputed by both individuals. Due to this Mr Young demanded an apology from Mr Stokes which was not forthcoming and he was told to go home and calm himself down.
When Mr Stokes did not turn up for a meeting the next day additional efforts were made by to resolve the matter. However, Mr Young went into the office of hotel financial controller, Naomi Shairp, where he tried to remove his shirt to show her the bruising on his chest from the alleged assault. This scared Ms Shairp and disciplinary proceedings were later held in relation to both incidents, alleging gross misconduct. The result of these hearing was that Mr Young was dismissed from his employment.
Mr Justice Barton said “I was left with the distinct impression that, had a little common sense and humility been brought to bear on matters, the outcome might very well have been different and this entire litigation avoided”. He ruled the disciplinary meeting leading to the dismissal was flawed as it was overseen by Mr Stokes himself into his own complaint and that of Ms Shairp.
Posted: May 23rd, 2018
A new father who was sacked by his employer just 11 days after the birth of his new-born baby, while on paternity leave, has been awarded €2,461 in unfair dismissal compensation by the Workplace Relations Commission.
During a work meeting on 12 January 2017 the man, who was employed as horticulturalist was told he was being made redundant – directly after his boss congratulated him on the birth of his baby. He was then asked to clear his desk and leave immediately.
The man took an action for unfair dismissal and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has upheld his claim and ordered his former employer to pay €2,461. WRC Adjudication Officer, Pat Brady has described the employer’s conduct in the case as “seriously unacceptable”.
The compensation figure awarded would have been higher if the man had remained unemployed for a longer period of time. However as he was diligent in seeking a new job it meant that his precious employer was not liable for as much compensation.
The man pointed out to the WRC hearing that any termination during on paternity leave is automatically found to be unfair on foot of section 20 of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act, 2016. The employer claimed that he was not aware that the employee being on paternity leave was an issue and the business decision to make the man redundant was due to a re-organisation of the company.
WRC Adjudication Officer, Pat Brady said that the employer in the case had adopted a cavalier attitude to the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act.
Mr Brady said: “Then, in circumstances which could scarcely have been more insensitive, he was given one day’s notice of a meeting at which his employment is terminated and he is told to leave the premises and not to return.”
He added: “However, it is the total absence of any procedures which is of more concern; the lack of proper or any notice, the lack of a selection procedure or consideration of alternatives.”
Posted: April 22nd, 2018
A €32,000 workplace bullying compensation award to a Limerick based Tesco Security Guard has been overturned by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) at the Labour Court.
The individual was employed by Noonan Services Group Limited at the Co Limerick Tesco store. The initial compensation award was made in relation to a complaint regarding a dispute the man had with the store management as he rehabilitated from knee surgery sustained in a previous workplace accident.
During his work shifts at the Tesco store, he would sit on a chair to review live security footage from security cameras.
The store management chose to remove the chair in order to tackle ‘shrinkage’, the practice of articles being stolen from the shop floor. It was hoped that removing the chair would force security staff to walk the aisles instead of sitting at the camera-station, acting as an additional deterrent.
When he asked for the chair to be returned to its original position his request was refused. He also supplied medical testimony that said standing for the entirety of his ten-hour shift he would greatly affect his recovery from his knee. As of November 2015, he ended his employment at the Tesco outlet in question and did not return to work there at any point after that.
At first the WRC had awarded him €32,000, €16,000 for loss of earnings due to going on prolonged leave, and another €16,000 due to his alleged bullying.
Tesco had argued, during the intial case, that the man was employed by Noonan’s and not Tesco. However, the initial ruling by the WRC adjudication officer found that it was right to name Tesco as the respondent as the store maintained considerable command and control over the security guard, regarding annual leave applications and the delivery of security reports for instance.
In the appeal hearing, Tescos claimed that Noonan’s is not an employment agency, as had been argued earlier, but is ‘a provider of managed services’. They maintained, successfully, that neither the Temporary Agency Work Act 2012, nor the Employment Agency Act 1971, applied to such suppliers of managed services.
After considering this the court overturned the original decision to award the man €32,000 in workplace bullying compensation.
Posted: December 19th, 2017
A Defence Forces whistleblower has made a protected disclosure claiming that the children of Air Corps staff died due to toxic chemical personal injury that were inflicted at at Baldonnel airfield.
Earlier this year a document was made available to the public in which a staff member of the Defence Forces said that they had proof in relation to the “the untimely deaths of at least 20 adults…of which I believe died of illness related to unprotected chemical exposure”.
Included in this was proof that the death of a girl just after birth happened due to ventricular septal defect (heart defect), a five year old boy passed away while having surgery to address a ‘malrotated intestine’ and a girl aged 15 lost her life after contracting Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer – her father is also currently suffering from leukaemia.
There have been claims made about the consequences of toxic exposure on the wives of members of the defence forces. A mechanic, who used to work with the Air Corps, discovered that many of these women had suffered more than one miscarriage and in one instance, a woman had eight consecutive miscarriages. Former civil servant Christopher O’Toole was appointed as an independent third party, by the Minister for Defence in 2016, to investigate the allegations
Mr Micheál Martin TD, leader of Fianna Fáil, commented that he feels a Commission of Investigation should be established. Mr Martin said, “The situation is far from satisfactory because with his opening comments the report’s author is essentially saying he cannot fulfill the terms of reference. From the Government’s point of view they established this review, they must have known the terms of reference could not be fulfilled. It’s farcical.”
Though the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have stated that risk assessment processes need will be reconsidered, a whistleblower has said that these measures are “too little, too late”, particularly in the case of those who have lost family members or who have developed life-changing illnesses.
There have been allegations made that these fatalities are caused by organizational failure in the Defence Forces which meant that Air Corps personnel were vulnerable to toxic chemicals. The Defence Forces are now dealing with Toxic Chemical Personal Injuries compensation litigation being taken by staff.
Posted: May 20th, 2017
Several former servicemen are prepared to make a claim against the Defence Forces due to damages to their and their families’ health due to prolonged unprotected exposure at their base.
As a result of an inspection made by the Health Service Authority (HSA) last October, the working conditions experienced by servicemen at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have been the subject of investigation. Furthermore, a number of claims against the Defence Forces were made in 2015 and 2016 by former air corps personnel for unprotected chemical exposure at the facility.
Authorities are investigating the claims that servicemen were exposed to high levels of chemical dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks associated with continued exposure. The more recent claims highlight the serious health damage that several servicemen claim to have sustained from working at the base. The report was initially published by an online newspaper, the Journal.
According to site, a “whistle-blower” has alleged air corps servicemen were not protected against exposure to the chemical-which is widely known to be carcinogenic and mutagenic-at the Baldonnel base. He further claims that, as a result, at least twenty former servicemen have died due to neurological and cancer-related illnesses.
The former air corps mechanic also believes that the partners of personnel based at the aerodrome have suffered fertility issues, and that a higher proportion than average of their children have been born with birth defects or development issues. The claim alleges that five children have died due to their parents´ exposure to toxic chemicals and, the “whistle-blower” claims, many more are living with debilitating illnesses.
The Journal reports the representative association for air corps personnel – PDFORRA – has been attempting to get improve health and safety conditions at the camp for a number of years. The association´s general secretary Gerry Rooney told the Journal: “There’s a tendency in military organisations to focus on carrying out the operation at all costs. It´s fairly clear there was a problem with chemicals and their use.”
There have been several unsuccessful attempts made to obtain comments from the Defence Forces and Department of Defence about the new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces. However Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó’Snodaigh was heavily critical of junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe. He told the Journal that previous chemical exposure claims had fallen on deaf ears, despite Minister Kehoe stating the health and wellbeing of members of the Defence Forces are a priority for him.
Posted: February 17th, 2017
A case of a man suffering from a severe back injury due to a slip and fall accident at work has resulted in liability being split between the man and his employer.
In February 2010, a former employee at the Templemore sewerage plant in County Tipperary was walking along a path at work when he fell, causing injury to his head and back. He sought legal counsel, and made a claim against Templemore Town Council for his slip and fall injury at work. In the claim, he alleged that the fall was due to sewerage overflowing from the flumes surrounding the inlet channels at the now decommissioned plant.
As a result of his injury, the employee suffered frequent headaches and the back injury caused him a great deal of discomfort. The severity of the injury was such that he was prevented from adequately performing his role at the plant. He was rendered unable return to work. He sought legal counsel, and applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation for a slip and fall injury at work. However, the defendants-the party responsible for the sewerage plant, Templemore Town Council-denied consent to assess the claim.
The Injuries Board then issued the former employee of the plant with authorisation to pursue his claim in court, as it was unable to be settled in an out-of-court agreement. This authorisation was granted. The case was scheduled to be heard at the High Court by Mr Justice Raymond Fullam. The purpose of the hearing was determine liability and assess damages and amount of compensation that should be awarded. The judge was informed that the employee was working alone in his sector of the plant at the time of the accident, and that no safe system of work had been implemented by the council for the workers at the sewerage plant.
The council defended the claim for compensation for a slip and fall injury at work. Their legal team had argued that one of the employee´s own responsibilities to keep the paths clear of hazards, both for his own safety and his fellow employee’s. They further stated that if he needed additional tools to complete his duties, he should have asked for them. The council contested that the employee´s accident had occurred due to his own lack of care and negligence, and thus denied all liability.
Judge Fullam agreed with the defendants that the employee was partially responsible for his accident, and therefore part of the liability for his accident should be attributed to him. However he accepted the employee´s evidence that the pumps in the plant frequently malfunctioned, and he did not have time to clean the paths to an appropriate standard on a regular basis. Judge Fullam also acknowledged that flumes surrounding the inlet channels were in a bad state on the day of the accident.
The judge said that he would have awarded the plaintiff €79,000 compensation for a slip and fall accident at work, however he was reducing the award by 40% to account for the plaintiff´s contributory negligence. The adjusted settlement of the claim consequently amounted to €47,400.
Posted: April 12th, 2016
A High Court judge has awarded a hotel waitress a six-figure settlement of compensation after deeming that the jugs she was required to use were not fit for their purpose.
The accident occurred in the Lough Rynn Hotel in Mohill, Co. Leitrim where Sophie Caillaud was working as a waitress. The forty-two year-old was filling a glass jug when it shattered in her hand, causing a deep gash to her thumb.
Despite surgery being performed on Sophie’s thumb shortly after the accident to try and help heal any soft-tissue damage, Sophie has still not regained full sensation and strength in her injured digit. Even now, she still has difficulty engaging in some basic, day-to-day tasks.
As she recovered, Sophie sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for compensation against her former employers, the Lough Rynn Hotel, and the manufacturers and suppliers of the glass jug, Utopia Tableware Ltd and Bunzl Outsourcing Ltd..
The claim for workplace compensation was, however, contested by the defendants, who argued that the amount of compensation being sought was too high. They also argued that Sophie was acted negligently, and caused her own injuries.
The case continued, but neither negotiations or the Injuries Board could bring the parties into agreement. As such, the case was heard in the High Court of Dublin, where it was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross was told that other staff members before Sophie had also reported injuries involving the same glass jugs shattering.
An expert witness explained to the court of how the jugs were weakened at their joint between the thin body and thick handle because of repeated hot-and-cold cycles in the dishwasher. This confirmed that the glass jugs were not fit for purpose and safe for use.
Sophie also gave evidence at the hearing, after which Judge Cross dismissed the allegations made by the defence that she was either exaggerating the extent of her injury or had caused it herself by acting negligently. Before awarding her a compensation settlement of €500,000, Judge Cross commented that he had found Sophie “entirely genuine”.
Posted: March 20th, 2016
The six-figure settlement of compensation was awarded to the former employee after he sustained lifting injuries whilst working in a distribution centre in Dublin.
The worker, forty-seven year-old Slovakian Salmovir Spes, sustained the injuries whilst working as a lifter, or “picker” at the Windcanton Distribution Centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin. His job entailed lifting (“picking”) goods from palettes and transferring them to trolleys. The goods are then transporter to the various twenty-four hour Supervalu supermarkets in the area.
Salmovir was injured in October 2011 when he was attempting to transfer a pallet of yogurts to a trolley. Upon lifting them, he felt a sharp pain in his back. He sought medical attention and then rested his back, but the pain was so severe he could not return to work. He remained on sick leave until 2014, at which point he was made redundant.
Salmovir consulted solicitors on his situation before proceeding to make a claim for the workplace injury. However, when the Injuries Board requested permission from his employers, Windcanton, to conduct an investigation of the claim, they withheld their consent. Salmovir was then allowed to proceed with his claim, and it was heard earlier this month by Mr Justice Anthony Barr in the Dublin High Courts.
At the hearing, evidence was given that alleged Salmovir was not adequately trained to carry out his work that meant he could meet any assigned quotas in a safe and timely manner. In a shift that lasts nearly eight hours, Salmovir was expected to do around 1,200 “picks”, and he alleges that his nationality meant he was chosen specifically to do any heavy manual lifting.
The defence disputed these claims, saying not only that Salmovir’s nationality was irrelevant to the work assigned to him and that he was treated as any other employee was, but that he had been trained in the correct procedures for his work. The company also claim they provide “refresher” courses for their employees regularly. They argued that Salmovir had caused his own injuries by taking short-cuts.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Barr found in Salmovir’s favour. He said he was satisfied that Salmovir’s injuries were caused by a lack of training, as well as an unreasonably high quota that put pressure on Salmovir to take short cuts. However, the judge added that he found no evidence to support allegations of discrimination, or that Salmovir caused his own injury.
The judge awarded Salmovir €153,150, commenting that he believed that the former lifter had suffered a significant injury to his lower back that “permanently disabled in the work aspects of his life” and affected other day-to-day activities.
Posted: September 5th, 2015
A man, who was gravely injured after he fell from a ladder whilst working in a family company, has resolved his claim for work injury compensation.
The accident occurred on the 22nd March 2011 when Michael Brady, aged forty-seven, was working at the Philip Brady Building Contractors Ltd in Naas. As part of his work, he was required to remove some vegetation that was clogging a gutter. His father, Philip Brady Senior (a relation to the owner of the company) had momentarily left Michael at work on top of the sixteen foot ladder.
However, when Philip returned, he found his son lying unresponsive at the bottom of the ladder. After being rushed to hospital, Michael had emergency surgery on his brain and has since had more neurosurgery, as well as operations to reconstruct parts of his face. Despite the surgeries, Michael suffered extensive brain damage and is reliant on round-the-clock care to live. He also has impaired vision as a result of the fall.
It was determined that the brain damage left Michael unable to represent himself in court, and as such Philip Brady Senior made a claim for work injury compensation against his employers. In the claim, Philip alleged that the ladder Michael was asked to use to clear the gutter did not provide adequate support or safeguards to prevent a fall.
The family construction company initially denied liability for Michael’s injuries. Though they had prepared a full defence, shortly before the High Court hearing the judge was told that an offer of €1.5 million in work injury compensation had been made to Michael. At the hearing, the judge approved the settlement upon hearing the details of the case.
Posted: January 13th, 2014
A coroner´s inquest into the death of a man who died following a cherry picket accident has been adjourned due to the complexity of the investigation.
On March 5th 2013, Frank McGrath died of extensive injuries caused by a blunt force trauma in a cherry picker accident on the University College Cork (UCC) campus.
Frank – who was a member of the governing body at the College – had worked for UCC in their maintenance and engineering section for twenty-seven years and, on the night in question, had been attending to the lighting system on the campus.
No details of exactly how Frank died in the cherry picker accident have been revealed, but an investigation was launched into the circumstances of his death by the Health and Safety Authority due to potential violations of the Safety and Welfare at Work Act.
At the coroner´s inquest in Cork, Dr Myra Cullinane was told by the lead HSA Inspector – Michael O´Flynn – the the Authorities investigation was complex and was taking longer than expected to resolve. Dr Cullinane adjourned the hearing into Frank´s fatal cherry picker accident until April 3rd.
A UCC spokesperson said after the inquest had been adjourned “Frank McGrath joined UCC in 1986 and was immensely popular among all staff. He was elected on two occasions to membership of the governing body, where he shared his wisdom, pragmatism and above all his loyalty to and pride in UCC”.
“UCC is deeply saddened by the accident and (again) wishes to extend its sincere sympathy to his family and colleagues.”
Posted: November 7th, 2013
Figures released by the Injuries Board in a press release have shown a big increase in injury claims for scalds and burns at work in Ireland
The increase is described as “worrying” by the Director of Corporate Services at the Injuries Board – Stephen Watkins – who, in the press release, compares figures from 2011 – in which there were 28 accepted Injuries Board assessments in respect of claims for burn and scald accidents at work – and 2012, in which the number of accepted assessments had increased to 42 (1).
The press release showed that assessments with a total value of €1.33 million were accepted by plaintiffs during 2011/12 and that the average compensation award was €19,066. Mr Watkins also listed some of the most frequent causes of accidents at work which resulted in burn and scald injuries:
- Splashes from hot liquids
- Burns from overflowing boiling water
- Burns from chemicals and acids
- Scalds from faulty electrical equipment
- Burns from clothes setting alight due to being too close to a source of heat
The highest single award of compensation for scalds and burns at work within the two-year period amounted to €106,949 and was made to an employee of a chemical company who suffered severe burns in an acid spill (2), and the highest volume of injury claims for scalds and burns at work were made by people working as cleaning staff and in the catering trade (3).
Mr Watkins urged employers to put safety procedures in place to avoid scald and burn injuries in the workplace and asked employees to be aware of the safety guidelines and be extra vigilant when working with hot liquids and hazardous chemicals.
(1) In 2012, the percentage of Injuries Board assessments accepted by plaintiffs decreased from 37.2 percent to 32.7 percent. This would suggest that there may have been a further eighty or more injury claims for scalds and burns at work which were settled other than through the Injuries Board process.
(2) In the 2012 “Summary of Workplace Injuries” (published by the Health and Safety Authority) statistics revealed that female workers are three times more likely to be scalded or burned in the workplace due to the higher percentage of females employed in cleaning and catering.
(3) Earlier this year, the Health and Safety Authority published the results of their “Chemicals Usage Survey”, which showed that 67 percent of companies who use chemicals in the workplace did not have a formal training program in place to advise employees on how to avoid chemical burns.
Posted: October 29th, 2013
A Kilbeggan postman has been awarded €55,000 compensation after his claim for being bitten by a dog was heard in the High Court.
Sixty-three year old Joseph Dunne (63) from Kilbeggan in County Westmeath brought his claim for being bitten by a dog after he was attacked by a husky-type pet belonging to Olive Dalton and Martin Maher of Dublin Road in Kilbeggan on 8th October 2008.
As Joseph was delivering mail through the couple´s letterbox, their dog escaped from their garden through a hole in the hedge and attacked him – knocking him to the pavement outside of the house, and clawing and biting him until Joseph was rescued by a passer-by.
Joseph was taken to hospital by ambulance where he was treated for severe lacerations along the right side of his face and nerve damage close to his right temple. Joseph had twenty-two stitches inserted into his face and, after they were removed, had to undergo plastic surgery to hide the scarring from the attack.
Joseph returned to work soon after the attack and made a compensation claim for being bitten by a dog against the animal´s owners – claiming that they were liable for his injuries because they had failed to enclose their garden securely which allowed their dog to escape from their garden.
The couple denied their liability for Joseph´s injuries, and the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin in front of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, who heard that the dog had been put down the day after the attack.
After hearing evidence from both parties, the judge found in Joseph´s favour and awarded him €55,000 in settlement of his claim for being bitten by a dog – commenting that it had been brave of Joseph to return to work so soon after what must have been a particularly frightening event.