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Court Awards €153,000 Compensation for a Workplace Manual Lifting Injury

A former picker at a Dublin distribution centre has been awarded €153,150 compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury by a judge at the High Court.

Forty-seven year old Slovakian, Salmovir Spes, made his workplace manual lifting injury claim after hurting his back while working at the Windcanton distribution centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Salmovir´s job at the distribution centre was to manually lift or “pick” goods from pallets and load the goods onto trolleys for transportation to twenty-four Supervalu supermarkets in the area.

Salmovir´s injury occurred on October 29th 2011 as he was lifting trays of yoghurts from a pallet. As he turned to place the yoghurts onto a trolley, Salmovir felt a sharp pain in his back. Although he went home immediately to rest his back, and then sought prompt medical attention, Salmovir was unable to return to work at the distribution centre. He remained on sick leave until 2014 when he was made redundant.

Salmovir claimed compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury, but Windcanton withheld their consent for the Injuries Board to conduct an assessment. Salmovir was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury through the courts, and his case was heard recently at the High Court by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

At the hearing, Judge Barr heard that Salmovir was set a “pick rate” of 1,200 picks per seven-and-a-half hour shift. It was alleged by Salmovir that he had not been trained in the correct way of manually lifting goods in a safe way to meet his target, and that he was especially selected for heavy manual lifting because of his nationality.

The defence argued that Salmovir had not been treated differently than any other employee, that adequate training was provided and that workers were given refresher courses at regular intervals. It was suggested that Salmovir´s injury had been caused by his own negligence due to taking a short cut in the correct procedures.

Judge Barr found in Salmovir´s favour – commenting he was satisfied that Salmovir´s back injury was attributable to a lack of adequate training, unreasonably high pick rates and being forced to take short cuts to meet his target. The judge said there was no evidence to support Salmovir´s allegations of discrimination or the defence´s argument that Salmovir had contributed to his injury through his own lack of care.

The judge awarded Salmovir €153,150 compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury, saying he was satisfied that the plaintiff had suffered a significant injury to his lower back due to his employer´s negligence that not only rendered him “permanently disabled in the work aspects of his life”, but also continued to cause him pain in his day-to-day domestic activities.