The HSE has issued a warning to employers of staff who regularly work outdoors regarding the risk of Lyme Disease this summer. If the employers fail to properly inform their staff of the risks, they are liable to face legal action in the case of infection.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has issued a warning about the potential threat of Lyme disease due to the increased numbers of the ticks that carry the bacterial infection during the summer months. The bacteria spreads to humans via the tick, which humans can pick up from horses, sheep, cattle, dogs and deer.
Dr Paul McKeown-who works for the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre-warns that people are at a higher risk of contracting the disease during the summer due to the increased probability that they’ll spend time engaging in outdoor pursuits. People who spend time in terrain such as forests or areas with deep or overgrown vegetation-inducing woodlands and heathlands-are especially at risk.
Employers are now responsible to inform their employees about the risks of Lyme disease if they work in such habitats that put them at heightened risk. They must inform their staff how to properly recognised the symptoms of a tick bite, and provide them with adequate protection to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. Dr McKeown has provided a list of precautions to take, including;
-Wearing long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and shoes
-Applying insect repellent such as DEET (on skin) or Permethrin (on clothes)
-Checking skin, hair, and clothes for ticks after being in such environments
If an employer has failed in their duty of care and not informed their employees of such risks, in the instance that their employee is bitten by a tick and becomes infected, they are liable to be taken to court by their staff and pay a settlement of compensation for Lyme Disease at work.
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Fire Service have issued a fresh warning to farmers in the area about the dangers of slurry pits on their property, and the risk that they pose to themselves, their workers and their livestock.
The warning comes as a result of the HSENI and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) having been classed to rescue four animals that had fallen into uncovered slurry pits so far this year. This loss of livestock may be financially damaging to farmers, but these cases pose as an example of the danger of death present for the farmers themselves, their families and farm employees.
Slurry pit related accidents is one of the four top causes of death and injury in Northern Irish farms. Farmers and farm employees are at risk of being overcome by the toxic gas released from the slurry during mixing, and falling into the pit or openings in the tanks.
NIFRS’ Group Commander-Fergal Leonard-issued this statement on the dangers of slurry pits:
“For Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, public safety is our priority and the best course of action is through prevention. At this time of year, slurry is being removed from the pits and used as fertiliser on the fields. This can be hazardous if the slurry pit is not properly ventilated during mixing operations and storage lids are not replaced immediately after filling a tanker. We would appeal for farmers to be vigilant in ensuring the access hatches into slurry pits are secure and well maintained”.
The leader of the Farm Safety Team at the HSENI-Malcom Downey-echoed his sentiments: “Before mixing slurry, always stop and think about the job ahead and make preparations to complete the entire task safely. You must cover all the openings and keep children and animals well away during the mixing process.”
He further stated: “Stay out for 30 minutes after starting mixing or after moving or re-directing the pump and try to mix on a windy day. Do not take any chances when mixing slurry, you are risking your own life and the lives of others as well as putting your livestock in danger.”
A dairy farmer in Armagh has been fined £1,000 for a breach of health and safety laws which resulted in injury to one of his employees.
In June 2015, an anonymous farm worker was helping to construct a fence on land owned by the dairy farmer – David Murphy – when his left leg was impaled by one of the prongs of a silage buckrake that fell from the front of a telescopic materials handler.
An investigation was launched into the circumstances surrounding the accident and injury to a worker at a dairy, which revealed that there had been a breach of Article 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Order (NI) 1978, and Murphy was prosecuted by HSENI inspectors in charge of the case.
A hearing was held at the Armagh Magistrates´ Court, where Murphy pled guilty to the charge on causing an injury to a worker at a dairy and was fined £1,000.
Following the hearing, an inspector with HSENI’s Major Investigation Team – Kevin Campbell – said:“Farmers must ensure that proper systems are in place to prevent employees being injured. In addition, the correct equipment must be used and be maintained in good working order. Any misuse of equipment, or the wrong choice of machinery has the potential for things to go wrong, resulting in serious injury, as was the case in this totally preventable accident.”
A former meat factory employee has received compensation for a back injury he sustained due to improper working conditions in the plant that rendered him unable to return to work.
Mohamed Ali Saleh was working as an employee at the pluck station of a slaughter hall at the Moyvalley Meats Factory in County Kildare. On 11th January 2011, Mohammed was performing the normal routine of twisting to put the meat onto a hook when he felt a sharp pain in his back. He sought medical attention, and had an MRI scan taken of the area. It revealed that he had suffered from a prolapse disc, and an urgent decompression was required.
Two further operations ensured, with little relief for Mohammed. He was eventually diagnosed with failed back syndrome and suffers from continual pain and weakness in his back and legs to this day. He is only able to walk with the assistance of crutches.
Mohammed sought legal counsel, and started a legal action against his employers for back injury due to workplace conditions. He claimed that he had not been adequately trained to perform his duties without twisting his body and that the company had not introduced a safe system of work. The defendants denied liability for his back injuries, saying that they were due to a preexisting condition.
The case was brought before Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. The defendants stated that Mohammed had been given on-the-job training. However, this was contested by an expert witness who stated that there was no safe system of work and that the only training that new employees received was watching an existing employee do the task for a short period of time. They also attributed the twisting manoeuvre to Mohammed’s injury.
The judge found in Mohammed’s favour, and awarded him €415,000 in compensation. The judge explained that the size of the compensation settlement reflected Mohammed´s lost income and his past and future pain and suffering.
Several victims of an SUV accident-who received soft-tissue damage-have received various settlements of compensation after their case was heard in the Limerick Circuit Court.
In October 2011, Mary O’Reilly was driving her husband’s SUV from Charleville, to Rathkeale, Co. Cork, when the vehicle was rear-ended by a rental van. Despite initially feeling no pain, Mary and her three passengers subsequently sought medical attention for soft tissue injuries that they had sustained in the accident.
The four women sought legal counsel, and made a claim for injury compensation from the driver of the rental van, Jeremiah O’Brien. They also sought legal action against Enterprise Rent-a-Car-the company from which the van had been hired-and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). Mary’s husband-William O’Reilly-also made a further claim for compensation for property damages to his SUV.
Both the MIBI and Enterprise Rent-a-Car denied liability for the accident. They stated that the circumstances of the accident did not stand up to scrutiny. They alleged that Jeremiah O’Brien and William O’Reilly were known to each other, and that the Gardaí who attended the scene of the accident had not recorded any property damage.
The defendants denied consent for the Injuries Board to assess compensation settlements for an SUV accident, and thus the case was brought to the Limerick Circuit Court. Judge Karen Fergus heard the case. She was informed that, although William O’Reilly’s parents had once lived near Jeremiah O’Brien’s parents, the two men had only met once in their life.
Judge Fergus was informed of the various injuries that had been sustained by Mary and her passengers, and that one of the passengers – Lisa O´Reilly had already settled her claim out of court. The judge ruled in their favour, and awarded multiple compensation settlements for an SUV accident to Mary O´Reilly (€7,500), Caitriona McDonagh (€10,000) and Breda McCarthy (€12,000). William O´Reilly was also awarded €4,800 for the property damage to his SUV.