€32,000 award for wrist injury at work

A SHOP floor assistant, who damaged his wrist when a shelf he was packing fell, was awarded €32,000 damages against a Wexford town supermarket in a civil action before Judge Margaret Heneghan at Wexford Circuit Civil Court last week.

Twenty-two-year-old Darragh Bell, of 9 Garrylough Upper, Castlebridge, brought his action against Pettitt's Wexford Ltd. arising out of an accident at the store in St. Aidan's Shopping Centre on November 18, 2006.

Frank Quirke, B.L., for Darragh Bell, told the court that he was stacking products at the Pettitt's store in St. Aidan's Shopping Centre when one of the shelves fell and injured his wrist. Special damages of €3,500 had been agreed, he said.

Darragh Bell told the court that he was working as a shop floor assistant while also studying architecture at the time.

He had been working at the supermarket for about three months and, on the day of the accident, he was also going back and forward to the tills to pack bags and boxes.

Padraig Doran had instructed him to stack the beer shelves, which involved basically tidying up the shelves and adjusting the top shelf.

He said that Angela Cullen was in charge of the alcohol section and she was working with him. As he was re-stacking the shelf, some cans of beer fell forward, leading to the first shelf falling on his wrist.

As a result of the injury he attended Wexford General Hospital.

The plaintiff said he had not received any training in the procedure of stacking a shelf, apart from what Mr. Doran had told him to do.

He told John Walsh, Counsel for the defendants, that as a result of the accident his wrist still swells. It's now three-and-ahalf years since the incident and it is now a bit better.

Mr. Walsh suggested to Darragh Bell that Mr. Doran would say that the height of the shelves would have to be readjusted, with the product on the shelf put on to a trolley, the shelf wiped down and then restacked.

However the plaintiff said he did not receive any training regarding the readjustment of the brackets to ensure their safety

Padraig Doran told the court that when someone worked the shelves it was procedure to work from bottom up. Mr. Bell, he said, was brought over and shown the procedure and how to adjust the height, but that he did not stay to watch him do it.

It was later that Angela Cullen came over and told him what had happened.

His recollection was that Darragh was working the shelf with beer cans on it. It was the lazy man's way of doing it, he said.

Angela Cullen said that Darragh had called her as the wine bottles would not fit in. The shelf had to be readjusted.

She said that later he called her and it was then that she realised his hand had been caught by a shelf.

She told Mr. Quirke that at no stage had she interfered with any of the shelves.

Judge Heneghan accepted that the plaintiff would have been unable to lift the shelf with products on it.

She also accepted that Darragh Bell, in carrying out his task, had received a nasty wrist injury.

The Judge awarded him €28,500 damages plus €3,500 special damages, a total award of €32,000.

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