Hospital Worker’s Claim Against HSE Settled in Court

A hospital worker who sustained a lasting ankle injury has won their claim for compensation for accident at work against the HSE.

In November 2012, Ann Groves (58) was walking at the back of the Baltinglass Hospital, where she worked as an assistant in the kitchens. As she was walking, she slipped on some wet leaves and fell to the ground, injuring her ankle. After applying an icepack to the wound, she visited her GP, who diagnosed her with a soft tissue injury. He bandaged the area, and Ann went on her way.

Ann was unable to sleep, walk, or stand for long periods following the incident. Eventually, Ann sought further medical attention from a number of different specialists. She attended physiotherapy and acupuncture sessions, which offered limited relief. Eventually, she underwent surgery to have a spinal cord stimulant surgically implanted in 2014. Although this did help Ann with the pain, she still suffered complications from the injury.

Ann sought legal counsel, and made a claim for slipping on wet leaves at work against her employer-the Health Service Executive (HSE). The defendants denied any fault for Ann’s injury, claiming that they had a rigorous cleaning system in place. They stated that Ann had been the sole contributor to her accident, and that the injury was entirely her fault.

Ann sought authorisation from the Injuries Board to pursue her claim in court, which was granted after no agreement of liability could be made between the two parties. Judge Barry Hickson of the Circuit Civil Courts heard the claim early this month. The judge was informed of Ann’s circumstances, and of the continual discomfort that she still endures. The judge was further informed that the day on which the accident occurred was a Monday, following a particularly stormy weekend. A maintenance engineer testified that the maintenance team at the hospital started work after the kitchen staff, and thus the path had not been cleared for use.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Hickson found in Ann’s favour, and dismissed the HSE’s claim of contributory negligence following the engineer’s statement. Ann was awarded €25,879 in compensation for her injuries.

Judge Finds Woman Innocent of Contributory Negligence for Waitress Hand Injury

A judge has a denied allegations that a woman was guilty of negligence, which resulted in her sustaining an injury to her hand while she was working as a waitress.

Sophie Caillaud (42) was working as a waitress at the Lough Rynn Hotel in Mohill, County Leitrim, when a glass jug that she was filling shattered in her hands. She suffered a deep laceration to her thumb, and required surgery to treat the soft tissue damage to the area. However, in spite of the surgery, she never fully regained use of her thumb. She was unable to continue her work as a waitress, and the continued discomfort impedes her daily activities.

Sophie sought legal counsel, and made a complain for compensation against the two companies who had manufactured the jug and supplied it to the hotel for which she had been working-Bunzl Outsourcing Ltd and Utopia Tableware Ltd.

Both companies protested the amount which Sarah was claiming for her injuring, and denied having full liability for the accident. They claimed that Sarah’s own negligence had contributed to her injuries, and that she should not receive the full sum that she requested.

Due to this dispute over compensation and liability, Sarah was issued with authorisation by the Injuries Board to pursue her case in court. It was heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge was informed that staff members had previously reported injuries to their employees as a result of glass jugs shattering in their hands, and Sarah’s accident was not unique.

An expert testimony was read in court, who explained that the rapid cooling and heating of the jugs as they were put in a dishwasher and weakened the join between the jug’s handle and its main body. As a result, the jug was rendered unfit for purpose, and posed as a danger to those who used it.

The judge dismissed all allegations on contributory negligence, and agree with Sophie that she was not exaggerating her injuries. Commenting that he found Sophie to be “entirely genuine”, the judge awarded her €500,000 in compensation for her waitress hand injury.

HSA/ESRI Study Reveals Groups Most Vulnerable to Workplace Accidents

The HSA/ESRI has published study of workplace accidents which has revealed data which indicates that new employees are four times more likely to suffer workplace accidents due to inexperience in the first six months of a new job. The research was based on workplace injury and illness figures over a 12 year period from 2001 to 2012.

The study found that employees which were recently hired–and not just younger ones–were at a much higher risk of being involved in workplace accident due to a lack of training, experience and supervision, a reluctance to question instructions for fear of being seen as incompetent, or a lack of safety knowledge about their workplace.

The study has further revealed that risk of injury and the incidence of workplace accidents decreases with age and experience. The HSA/ESRI report attributes this as being due to lower risk-taking and a reduction in the involvement of manual tasks.

The Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority-Martin O’Halloran–expressed concern that employers should be aware their new employees are a group more vulnerable to accidents. He said:“It is vital that new workers are given adequate training and supervision. This means showing a person the correct way of doing a task and making sure that they can carry out the task correctly and safely. This is particularly important in sectors like construction and agriculture where hazards such as machinery, work at height and manual-handling are common.”

Mr O´Halloran continued: “When we inspect a workplace we are looking for signs that the employer is actively managing safety and health. We find that the good employers are aware of their obligations and have a strong focus on induction training.”

The awareness campaign will run on the radio until March 18th. Its primary goal is to raise awareness of workplace accidents due to inexperience by reminding employers of their duties in relation to new employees.

Employee at Manufacturing Plant Awarded Compensation for Crushed Leg Injury

An employee who was forced to stay in hospital for 10 weeks after an incident in the plant resulted in his leg being crushed by heavy concrete objects has received compensation for his injuries.

Bendcrete Leisure Ltd of Stalybridge in Manchester is a manufacturer of concrete sports equipment such as climbing walls and skate parks. The company also manufactures concrete table tennis tables for outdoor use.

In February 2015, five of the concrete table tennis tables were being prepared for transportation – the first four having been balanced on top of two half-empty resin barrels. As the fifth one was lowered, the weight was too much for the resin barrels and the entire stack collapsed.

When the stack collapsed, the tables fell on top of the employee who had been operating the lifting crane-who wishes to remain anonymous. The weight of the concrete objects crushed his legs. Colleagues were able to free the employee and he was taken immediately to Wythenshaw Hospital by ambulance.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSE) conducted an investigation into circumstances surrounding the crushed leg injury at work and found that the task of manoeuvring the concrete table tennis tables had not been planned, supervised or carried out in a safe or appropriate manner.

The HSE subsequently prosecuted Bendcrete Leisure Ltd for breaches of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and, at Trafford Magistrates´ Court, directors of Bendcrete Leisure Ltd plead guilty to the charges.

After hearing that the employee had spent ten weeks in hospital recovering from his crushed leg injury at work and has been unable to work since, magistrates fined the company £12,000 for the health and safety breaches and ordered the company to pay an additional £3,495 in costs.

HSA Reports Same Number of Workplace Related Fatalities for 2015 as 2014

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has released their annual report including the details of workplace related fatalities for 2015, which shows that the overall number of workplace related deaths has remained constant from 2014.

In contrast to this consistency, there was a noticeable change seen in the proportion of fatal accidents at work accounted for by different industries. Two-thirds of work-related deaths occurred in businesses with fewer than ten employees or where the victim was self-employed – mainly in agriculture, construction and fishing.

Construction workplace fatalities in Ireland increased from eight in 2014 to eleven in 2015 and the fishing industry also saw an increase in fatal accidents from one in 2014 to five in 2015. Fatalities in agriculture accounted for eighteen reported deaths compared to thirty deaths in 2014 and included the deaths of three children who were struck by falling objects or moving vehicles.

Just under half of the of the workplace fatalities in Ireland were related to accidents involving moving vehicles (21 deaths),  and a further fifteen employees were killed as a result of a fall from height. Thirteen workers died as a result of being crushed or trapped by machinery. Of the remaining workplace fatalities in Ireland, the majority were attributable to drowning.

Brian Higgisson – the Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – said the Authority will be looking for further improvements and reductions in accidents during 2016. He said in a press release: “All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change. There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”

Mr Higgisson continued: “We will continue to direct resources to the high-risk sectors, but health issues such as those caused by exposure to asbestos, dust, noise and manual handling are also major risks in the workplace. These hazards account for more working days lost than injuries and we intend to increase our focus on these topics during 2016.”

Former Factory Receives Compensation for Back Injury

A former employee at the Moyvalley meat factory has received compensation for a back injury he sustained due to being inadequately trained on the job.

In January 2011, Mohammed Ali Saleh of Mullingar, County Westmeath, was an employee at the Moyvalley meat factory in County Kildare. While he was working at the plant, he endured back pain while he was working at the chicken pluck station. Mohammed sought medical attention, and it was revealed that he was suffering from a prolapsed disc.

Mohammed had suffered from previous back problems, but none matched this severity of pain. An MRI scan was taken of the region, and it was revealed that he required an urgent decompression. Despite these measures, and two further operations, he was diagnosed with failed back syndrome and now requires crutches to support himself.

Mohammed sought legal counsel and claimed compensation for an injury caused by inadequate training against his employers, Moyvalley Meats Ireland Limited. He claimed that he had never been taught who to perform the plucking process without having to constantly twist his body around. It was this twisting manoeuvre which was attributed to causing his back pain.

The defendants contested their former employee’s claim. They claimed that the training had been adequate and that his back pain was a result of an existing injury. Due to this disagreement over liability, the case was taken to be heard in front of Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court.

An expert witness testimony claimed that the training provided for Moyvalley employees consisted of having them watch a fellow employee work on the pluck station. The expert said that no safe system of work had been implemented as to avoid the twisting manoeuvre, and that the trading was entirely inadequate.

As a result of this testimony, the judge found in Mohammed’s favour. He stated that Moyvalley meats violated their statutory duty of care in failing to train him. The judge awarded Mohammed €415,000 in compensation to account for his loss of income and for his pain.

Former Employee Receives Compensation for Back Injury Caused by Improper Training

A former employee of the Moyvalley meat factory has received compensation for a back injury he sustained as a result of not receiving proper training for his job.

In January 2011, Mohammed Ali Saleh of Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, was employed by the Moyvalley meat factory, situated in Kildare. Mohammed experienced extreme back pain while he was working at the factory’s pluck station, and sought medical attention. Medical staff discovered that he suffered from a prolapse disk. Mohammed-who had a history of back problems-underwent an MRI scan of the region. This revealed that Mohammed required immediate and urgent decompression.

Two operations were performed on the factory worker’s back, but in spite of these actions, he was diagnosed with failed back syndrome. He is now dependant on crutches as a means of supporting himself. Mohammed sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for an injury caused by inadequate training.

In his action, he claimed that Moyvalley Meats Ireland Limited had never shown him how to perform the plucking process without having to engage in the twisting manoeuvre, which was identified as the reason for the prolapsed disc.

The defendants denied liability for Mohammed’s injury. They claimed that he had been given on-the-job training, and that his back injury was the result of a pre-existing condition. There was no agreement made to the claim for compensation, and the case was brought to the High Court.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the case at court. An expert witness testified that Mohammed’s training consisted of having him watch a fellow employee work on the pluck station, and Mohammed did not partake in the action. He further stated that no safe system of work had been implemented that could avoid the twisting manoeuvre. He concluded that the training Mohammed had received was inadequate for him to safely perform the job.

The case was found to be in Mohammed’s favour. The judge stated that his employers had been in breach of statutory duty in failing to train him in what should have been the correct posture to avoid unnecessary back strain. The judge awarded Mohammed €415,000 in compensation for an injury caused by inadequate training to account for his pain and suffering, and any loss of income.

Flight Attendant’s Case Against Aer Lingus Heard at High Court

A flight attendant who made an injury claim as a result of a rough landing at Dublin Airport is facing her employers Aer Lingus at the High Court in Dublin.

In November 2009, Cassandra Reddin of Ratoath, Co. Meath, was employed as a flight attendant for Aer Lingus. During flight EI582 from Malaga to Dublin, the Airbus 320 on which she was working started swaying from side-to-side as it approached Dublin Airport. Upon landing, it bounced three times before eventually stopping much further down the runway than would be typically expected.

Cassandra informed Mr Justice Michael Hanna that the rough landing had caused her emotional shock, and resulted in her going home from work and experiencing extreme distress; she was rendered tearful for the whole evening. Cassandra also sought medical attention for soft tissue neck and back injuries, akin to what would be expected from whiplash. Cassandra sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for injuries sustained during a landing at Dublin Airport against her employer, Aer Lingus.

The rough landing had caused luggage in the overhead storage departments to open, and for items to fall on top of passengers. According to Cassandra’s testimony, several people on board the plane are screaming with fear. “Safety documents shot out of their pockets; duty free broke in the overhead baggage and alcohol leaked into the cabin. There was a degree of chaos and stress on board,” she told the High Court during the testimony. She further claimed that the rate of descent into the airport was three or four times the normal safe limit.

The defendants denied liability for Cassandra’s injuries, stating that the co-pilot had not been negligent in failing to adequately supervise the landing of the plane. Consequently, when Cassandra applied to the Injuries Board for compensation for injuries during a landing, Aer Lingus refused to give its consent for the assessment to proceed.

The hearing at the Four Courts continues later on this week.

Injuries Board Releases Annual Report Online

The Injuries Board in Ireland has released its annual report online, detailing statistics comparing claims to those made in the first half of this year to the same period in 2012.

The Injuries Board have released a report on their website-injuriesboard.ie-that shows that the number of claims and applications for assessment of personal injury compensation have risen by 10 percent in the first six months of 2013 in comparison to the same period in 2012. The government body received 14,685 cases in the first half of the year in 2012, which increased to 16,162 this year.

The total value of assessments that had been accepted by the board rose by 8 percent between 2012 and 2013. The average value of Injuries Board claims also rose, by 4 percent. These changes have been attributed to a small number of exceptionally high claims assessments-one in particular, for €976,000, is on record as being the highest-ever assessment of personal injury compensation made by the Injuries Board.

The number of Injuries Board claims assessments accepted by plaintiffs also increased from 5,180 in 2012 to 5,286 in 2013. This represented a substantial decrease in the percentage of Injuries Board assessments accepted; in 2012, 37.2 percent were accepted, whereas in 2013 32.7 percent were accepted. This indicates that more claims for personal injury compensation are being resolved by direct negotiation and court action.

Road traffic accidents accounted for the highest proportion of applications for assessment submitted to the Injuries Board (75.5 percent). This trend continues on from previous years. The proportion of claims for injuries sustained at work continued to decline (8.1 percent). The balance of Injuries Board claims was in respect of public liability claims and product liability claims.

The CEO of the Injuries Board in Ireland-Patricia Byron-commented that the higher volume of claims and increased value of accepted compensation assessments did not provide an excuse for insurance companies to increase the premiums they charge. She said that, as the Board´s processing fee to respondents had been reduced from €850.00 to €600.00, the savings made by insurance companies should counter the increased value of Injuries Board claims.

Woman Awarded Broken Chair Injury Compensation

A woman who sustained irreversible damage from a broken chair accident has been awarded compensation for her injuries. 

In June 2002, Terry Anne Downie (now fifty-one years old) was employed as a team leader for the Community Information and Referral Service in the Australian Capital Territory. She purchased furniture for her office from an ex-government furniture outlet-Fyshwick-to decorate her office with. One of the items that she purchased was a chair to use at work.

In October later that year, Terry Anne was on the chair in her office when two legs of the chair snapped, causing Terry Anne to fall to the floor. A co-worker who witnessed the accident stated that she heard a loud crack, and then witnessed Terry Anne struggling to get up.

The woman was immediately transported to hospital, and scans were taken of her back. They revealed a building disc inflamed by the accident was in contact with a nerve root. Despite their best efforts, doctors were unable to fix the injury and Terry Anne suffers from ongoing pain, mental illness, sexual dysfunction and a permanent sensation that she said could be described as ants under the skin of her legs.

Terry Anne was awarded Au$190,000 in compensation for an injury caused by a broken chair at work in 2005. She also made a private claim for personal injury compensation against the chair’s importer-Jantom-claiming that the product was faulty when it was supplied to Fyshwick. Terry Anne’s employers also made a claim against Fantom to recover the amount of worker’s compensation that they had paid her as a result of her injury.

Judge Master David Harper heard the case at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. He found in favour of Terry Anne and her employer after hearing expert evidence that the plastic moulding on the base of the chair had failed catastrophically, as two of the five supporting spokes snapped.

The judge said “Terry Anne has many years ahead of pain and depression. Her life is very different to the life she could have expected if it had not been for her injury. Her enjoyment of life, and the kind of life she is able to lead, have been altered immeasurably.”

Terry Anne was awarded $933,030 in compensation for her injury, and a further $112,000 in special damages to cover her medical expenses. Terry Anne’s employer was also awarded compensation for the money that they had paid to Terry Anne.