Month: January 2016

NI Pipe Company Fined £24,000 for Fatal Forklift Accident at Work

A manufacturer of plastic drainage pipes has been fined £24,000 for health and safety failings that resulted in a fatal forklift accident at work.

The manufacturer – Cherry Pipes Ltd of Dungannon in County Tyrone – was prosecuted by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) following an investigation into a fatal forklift accident at work.

According to the inspectors´ report, a 49-year-old Polish employee – Arkadiusz Makosa – was fatally injured when a forklift he was driving overturned at the company´s premises in Crumlin, County Antrim. Tragically, Mr Makosa was crushed beneath the weight of the vehicle´s safety frame that was there to protect him.

The inspectors discovered that Mr Makosa was employed as a general operative by the manufacturing company and not as a forklift truck operator, and had therefore received no professional training on manoeuvring the vehicle. Cherry Pipes Ltd was charged with four breaches of health and safety laws that resulted in the fatal forklift accident at work:

  • Article 4(1) of the Health and Safety Work at Work Order (NI) 1978.
  • Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.
  • Regulation 9(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.
  • Regulation 10(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000.

At Antrim Crown Court, David Cherry – the managing director of Cherry Pipes Ltd – called the death of Mr Makosa “a tragic loss”. After pleading guilty to the charges brought against the company, Mr Cherry told the court that the company had conducted a full review of its internal health and safety procedures to ensure that there will be no repeat of the fatal forklift accident at work.

Cherry Pipes Ltd was fined £6,000 for each breach of health and safety legislation and ordered to pay £854 – following which Health and Safety Executive inspector Kevin Campbell said: “Employers must ensure that operators of forklift trucks are properly trained, competent and authorised to operate lift trucks.”

He added: “No one should be allowed to operate a forklift truck unless they have received the appropriate training and instruction. It is also essential that all employers provide health and safety information to their employees that is clear and easily understood.”

Claim for Brain Damage in a Lorry Accident Resolved in Court

A claim for brain damage in a lorry accident has been resolved at the High Court with the approval of a €750,000 injury compensation settlement.

Twenty-five year old Francis Smith was driving on the outskirts of Edgeworthstown in County Longford when, on January 27, 2009, he crashed into the back of a stationary council lorry while trying to avoid a collision with a car heading towards him.

The lorry had been parked close to where Longford County Council was carrying out repairs to the road, and Francis was unlikely to have seen it as he came around the bend immediately preceding the roadworks.

Although neither of Francis´ two passengers were injured in the crash, Francis suffered brain damage. He now has physical and cognitive difficulties that prevent him from leading an independent life. He has also had to give up the job he had in a local factory.

Francis´ mother – Martina Dempsey – made a compensation claim for brain damage in a lorry accident on behalf of her son – alleging in her legal action that Longford County Council had been negligent by failing to provide warning signs ahead of the roadworks.

It was also claimed that the lorry into which Francis crashed was parked too far out into the carriageway, creating a hazard for motorists coming off of the bend.

Longford County Council denied its liability for Francis´ brain damage. The council argued that Francis had contributed to the cause of the accident, and therefore his injury, by driving around the bend at an excessive speed.

Eventually the two parties agreed on a €750,000 settlement of the claim for brain damage in a lorry accident; but, as the claim had been made on behalf of a plaintiff unable to represent himself, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, the circumstances leading up to Francis´ accident and the impact it has had on his quality of life were related to Mr Justice Kevin Cross earlier this week at the High Court. The judge approved the settlement – noting that it represented 25% of the full value of the claim for brain damage in a lorry accident.

Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation Claim for a Fatal Accident at Work

Mr Justice Kevin Cross has approved a €500,000 settlement of a compensation claim for a fatal accident at work made by the widow of a man killed in 2008.

Declan Byrne (31) from Ballyhaunis in County Mayo was working on the construction of a gym at the Connacht Sportsground in Galway on 30th April 2008 when the tragic accident happened. Due to the blockwork of the construction being at an advanced stage, Declan had chosen to use a scaffold and bottle jack – rather than a teleporter or a crane – to support a 1.4 tonne steel beam while he realigned it.

When Declan removed the last of the six bolts holding the beam in place, the beam fell on him – causing him to suffer fatal injuries. An investigation into Declan´s death resulted in charges being brought against his employer – CDM Steel Ltd – but the company were acquitted from alleged breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act at a hearing of Galway Circuit Criminal Court in 2013.

At the end of the criminal hearing, Judge Rory McCabe was critical of CDM Steel Ltd for failing to have a construction supervisor on the site and for an “appalling lack of communication” that contributed to Declan´s death. Subsequently, Declan´s widow – Dolores – sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for a fatal accident at work against CDM Steel Ltd and three other defendants.

The defendants denied that their negligence had resulted in Declan´s death and the case was scheduled to be heard at the High Court. However, prior to the case being heard, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed that a settlement of the compensation claim for a fatal accident at work had been agreed amounting to €500,000.

Judge Cross approved the settlement and told the family that, although the settlement of the compensation claim for a fatal accident at work was a good one – and that he was happy to approve it – “nothing can replace what you have lost”.

Claim for being Trapped in a Shop Changing Room Resolved with Approval of Settlement

Two girls´ claim for being trapped in a shop changing room while a mock armed robbery was taking place has been resolved at the Circuit Civil Court.

In March 2013, the two girls – Abbie and Casie Kennedy from Lucan in County Dublin – had been shopping with their mother at the H&M shop in the Dundrum Shopping Centre, and were in one of the shop´s changing rooms, when they heard someone shouting at the staff to open the till and get down on the floor.

Unaware that what they could hear was part of a training exercise, the three remained trapped in the shop changing room until there was silence. The girls´ mother – Claudia – then opened the changing room door and looked out but saw nothing. She waited several minutes until she heard voices in the shop before leaving the changing room with her terrified daughters.

On speaking with a store manager, Claudia discovered that the event had been a robbery simulation and, when she got home, she called the H&M head office to complain that the shop had failed to check for the presence of customers before starting the training exercise. A representative of the company apologised and offered Claudia a €30 voucher.

Dissatisfied with the response from the company, Claudia made a claim for being trapped in a shop changing room on behalf of her two daughters against H&M Hennes &Mauritz (Ireland) Ltd. In her legal action, Claudia alleged that Abbie and Casie had been terrified and in fear for their and their mother’s lives. She also claimed that the experience had given both girls nightmares.

The company made offers of compensation for eleven-year-old Abbie (€10,000) and eight-year-old Casie (€8,000) in settlement of their claim for being trapped in a shop changing room. At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Judge Rory MacCabe approved the offers after hearing how the sisters had been traumatised by the “terrifying” incident.

HSA Releases Details of Workplace Fatalities in Ireland

The Health and Safety Authority has released details of workplace fatalities in Ireland for 2015, with fifty-five employees suffering fatal injuries at work.

Although the number of workplace fatalities in Ireland was the same as in 2014, there were significant changes in the distribution of fatal accidents at work. 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.

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. 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.

Twenty-one of the workplace fatalities in Ireland were related to accidents involving moving vehicles, while fifteen employees were killed as a result of a fall from height and thirteen others 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.”

Claim against an Airline for being Scalded by a Hot Drink made in New York

An injury compensation claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink has been made in New York against the Irish airline Aer Lingus.

The claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink was made by the mother of a young boy, who suffered burn injuries “as a result of scalding hot liquid” being spilled on him during a flight from Dublin to John F Kennedy International in June 2014.

The boy´s mother alleges that her son´s injuries were attributable to the negligence of Aer Lingus´ flight crew and that he is now “deprived of his enjoyment of life, pursuits and interests and in the future will be deprived on the same”.

Aer Lingus denies any claims that a member of its flight crew was negligent but, under the Montreal Convention, is liable to pay injury compensation if any passenger suffers any injury during a flight – irrespective of who was at fault for the injury.

Negotiations to settle the claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink are scheduled to get underway later this month and Aer Lingus has requested copies of the boy´s medical records to assess compensation for being scalded by a hot drink the boy may be entitled to.

Another Claim for being Scalded by a Hot Drink already in Mediation

This is the second claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink that has been made against Aer Lingus in recent months. Last August, another claim was filed against Aer Lingus in Jacksonville, Florida, on behalf of a ten-year-old girl scalded when hot tea was spilled onto her during a flight from Dublin to Orlando the previous month.

The girl´s parents are claiming $75,000 compensation from Aer Lingus on the grounds that – prior to her injury – their daughter was a “successful amateur competitive surfer”. The parents allege that the injuries sustained by the girl around her lower torso and upper thighs have caused her to suffer embarrassment and mental anguish as well as physical pain and suffering.

In the claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink, the parents allege that Aer Lingus failed to serve the tea “at a safe temperature” and failed to alert passengers to the “known dangers and the excessive and unreasonable temperature of the hot tea”. They also allege that Aer Lingus failed “to properly train flight attendants of the dangers of serving excessively hot tea to its passengers”.

Aer Lingus is disputing how much compensation for being scalded by a hot drink the girl is entitled to, but her parents are arguing that they will have to spend “great sums of money” on their daughter´s future medical care in addition to how much the accident has already cost them. This claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink is in mediation.

Aer Lingus Settles Previous Claim against an Airline for being Scalded by a Hot Drink

A much earlier claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink – this time in Ireland – has already been settled by Aer Lingus. On this occasion, five-year-old Sophie Gorman from Knocklyon in Dublin was scalded on an Aer Lingus flight from London, when tea placed on the tray in front of her mother spilled onto her leg due to the lid not being properly affixed.

On her daughter´s behalf, Sophie´s mother made a claim against an airline for being scalded by a hot drink. Aer Lingus did not contest the claim and made an offer of €7,000 compensation. In July 2012, the settlement offer was approved by Mr Justice Matthew Deery after hearing that Sophie´s burn had healed considerably after antibiotic cream prescribed by her GP had been applied, but that Sophie had a permanent skin pigmentation irregularity due to her injury.