Meat Factory Employee Receives Compensation for Back Injury Due to Improper Working Conditions

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.