In the High Court case of Boguslaw Madajczyk v Multi-Roofing Systems Ltd  IEHC 172 (High Court, Irvine J, 28 March 2014) the Court dismissed a claim for damages by a former roof cladding operative of the defendant company arising from injuries sustained as a result of the alleged unsafe system of work operated by the defendant during the period 2005 to 2010 as the plaintiff failed to establish on the balance of probabilities that his injuries were the direct result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care or statutory obligations concerning the safety of its employees.
The Plaintiff`s Claim
The Plaintiff claimed for damages in respect of pain and suffering and loss of earnings in respect of alleged injuries sustained during plaintiff’s employment with defendant from 2005 to 2010 as a roof and wall cladding operative. The issue for the Court was whether the system of work operated by defendant was unsafe. The plaintiff was required to lift and install heavy panels on various building sites. He had issued separate proceedings against the defendant for unfair dismissal, which were still ongoing. He had obtained medical treatment in Poland which resulted in the plaintiff being declared unfit to work.
The defendant employer denied liability. He pointed to the fact that the plaintiff had long-standing severe degenerative changes in his neck and shoulders which left him open to possible aggravation resulting from heavy physical manual labour. The defendant was also able to demonstrate safe systems of work.
The Court`s Decision
Ms Justice Irvine stated that the burden of proof was on plaintiff to prove negligence / breach of statutory duty. The plaintiff had failed to establish negligence on the balance of probabilities. The safety apparatus of the defendant company was adequate. Furthermore, the plaintiff had failed to complain about system of work at the time. Adequate training was received.
The injuries sustained were not attributable to negligence or breach of duty on part of defendant. The judge stated:
“To conclude, the plaintiff has not satisfied me, on the balance of probabilities that whilst employed by the defendant he was required to lift, manoeuvre and transport insulation panels which were of excessive weight. I am also satisfied that he was adequately trained for the purposes of maintaining his own safety in the course of his employment as a cladding operative. While his job was demanding in terms of productivity, I do not believe that the plaintiff was put under the type of pressure or asked to carry out his duties in circumstances that would lead me to conclude that the defendant’s system of work should be considered unsafe.”
In this case the employer was able to show safe systems of work, Method Statements, Risk Assessments undertaken and proper supervision. Allied with the fact that the Plaintiff had not complained about his conditions of work at the time and appeared to be already suffering from degenerative systems in his spine, the Court was satisfied that the employer was not responsible in the circumstances.