Gediminas, a Lithuanian national, came to work in Ireland in 2006. He was employed as a driver and delivery man by a glass wholesale company. His job involved moving sheets of glass from the factory floor into the van. He would then drive them to the customers and unload the glass.
It was Friday, 27th of June 2014. It was the last day before holidays. He was putting about 50 pieces of glass weighing anything from 5 kg up to 120 kg. He had loaded 20 pieces of glass. He was loading the next piece of glass with a fellow workman. It weighed 120 kg. The guided maximum from the Health and Safety Authority is 25 kg. It was a dangerous and awkward lift from a stooped position. Gediminas felt back pain but kept working. As he worked on during the day his back felt worse. He told one of his fellow workmen that his back was in pain but never reported the accident.
When the Ryanair flight arrived in Kaunas he could barely move from his seat and then only with great pain. He spent the whole of his holiday at the doctor and in bed.
He reported the accident when he got back from holidays.
It turned out that he had received manual handling training but only for lifting boxes. Gloves and glass suckers were available but never used for lifting the glass as it took too long.
It turned out that Gediminas had had back problem from lifting over 2 years prior to the accident.
The insurance company for the glass company defended the court proceedings. They said he had never reported the accident on time. They also said that his injuries had happened more than 2 years ago and that therefore it was too late to claim. In Irish law you only have 2 years from when you have an accident to lodge a claim. This is a huge problem for people with ongoing back complaints due to heavy lifting at work.
The defendants also said that because he didn’t report the accident on time that it could have happened anywhere. They specifically said that it could have happened while he was away on holidays in Lithuania.
Gediminas’ case was settled before going to court for €50,000. He had to give up heavy lifting work and find another job. If he had gone to a solicitor earlier and reported the accident when it happened he would have been awarded considerably more money.
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