By Jessica Magee
A water filtration company in Dublin has been fined €50,000 over a workplace accident which left a former employee with a fractured skull and ongoing cognitive difficulties.
E W Technologies, represented by its former managing director David Ford, pleaded guilty to failing to provide adequate fall prevention measures at a warehouse in Blanchardstown Corporate Park on January 15, 2021.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Ludovic Tanfin (58) had been standing on an improvised platform on a forklift, trying to fix a shutter door, when he fell over two metres to the concrete floor below.
His son, who was also working with E W Technologies at the time, was present at the scene, the court heard.
At a hearing, Judge Orla Crowe said Mr Tanfin had been out of work for a year after what she said was a “very unfortunate, one-off incident”.
Judge Crowe noted that Mr Tanfin had suffered a fractured skull and continues to experience cognitive problems.
She said Mr Tanfin had clearly been a valued member of staff and added that E W Technologies had “an impeccable safety record” and that there had been “no evidence of any cavalier attitude to safety, no systemic failures, or no failure of warning systems”.
E W Technologies, which was sold last year to a US company, was fined €50,000 to be paid forthwith.
The court had previously heard that the company was facing a maximum fine of up to €3 million or a prison term of up to two years for breaching health and safety regulations.
Terry Hallihan, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) told the court last week that the company has since been sold to a larger US firm.
Mr Hallihan told Olan Callanan BL, prosecuting, that the incident happened after Mr Tanfin accidentally crashed a forklift into the warehouse roller shutter door, damaging two panels.
Personnel at the warehouse tried to fix the door but it didn’t work, so a wooden pallet was placed on the two prongs of the forklift and Mr Tanfin stood on this improvised platform.
The pallet was then lifted up just short of 10 feet and Mr Tanfin loosened the bolts in order to remove the two panels so they could be fixed.
The left side of the roller door collapsed abruptly under gravity and Mr Tanfin fell directly to the floor where he began bleeding from the ear.
He spent eight days in hospital and a medical report said he suffered substantial skull fractures with inter-cranial bleeds, together with multiple rib fractures.
Mr Tanfin returned to work with a different company about a year later but a more recent medical report said he continues to suffer consequences, including difficulties with memory and understanding, and trouble standing for long periods.
No victim impact report was made.
Mr Tanfin is taking a personal injury case which is ongoing, the court heard.
Mr Hallihan agreed with Mark Lynam SC, defending, that E W Technologies had submitted a very early plea and had co-operated with every stage of the investigation.
Mr Lynam said the company fully accepts responsibility for the injuries suffered by Mr Tanfin.
The court heard that the investigation examined CCTV of the incident and noted an “element of panic” after the door was broken.
Mr Hallihan said there was no necessity for the personnel present on the day to try and fix the door and that it should have been left to the expertise of a door company.
He agreed with counsel for the defence that staff were worried that the broken door might pose a risk but that unfortunately it was their efforts to fix it which created a serious risk.
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