Car dealer fined €20,000 after worker's leg amputated
A CAR dealership has been fined €20,000 after a staff member had half his leg amputated when a car display ramp crushed his foot.
Garry Hoey (32), who worked as a sales executive at Rice and Roddy Ltd, was trying to co-ordinate the movement of the display ramp when the ramp slipped and fell on to his foot.
The ramp was rarely moved from its position at the front of the car dealership building in Dundalk in Louth, a court heard yesterday.
But a professional photographer was coming to take pictures for a website and the decision was made to move it on July 3, 2009. This was being attempted by putting the forks of a forklift through the metal ramp to move it.
Mr Hoey saw it slip and ran to grab the ramp and prevent it falling. He jumped back from it but it landed on his foot,.
He was immediately brought to hospital where he remained for a month and where he had to have his right leg amputated from just below the knee joint. He has since been fitted with an artificial leg.
A report from his GP said the accident had a profound effect on his balance, co-ordination, lifting, carrying, using the stairs and walking. It had a severe effect on his mental health, particularly as he cannot participate in sport.
Yesterday, Rice and Roddy Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Welfare at Work Act.
One breach related to failing to ensure the health and safety of an employee, the other to failing to identify and assess hazards and risks.
Health and Safety Authority inspector Clodagh Meade said the system of work being used to attempt to move the ramp was unsafe as was the use of the forklift.
Company director of finance Eamonn McCartan said what happened was "tragic" and Mr Hoey had been a valued member of staff.
The company has provided him with a car which it taxes and insures for him.
He said there was a job for him whenever he was able to return to work and the court heard the company is insured and its insurers are handling a personal claim.
Company auditor Alan Farrell said its accounts since 2008 reflected the downturn in the economy and car sales and it had to let people go. It currently employs 24 people.
The judge imposed a €10,000 fine for each offence.