Tuesday 20 August 2019

€3,500 for carer fired for sparking alarm with burnt eggs

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Stock image

Gordon Deegan

A care worker was sacked for setting off a fire alarm at a home when boiling eggs and for carrying a resident to safety instead of evacuating him by wheelchair.

The Labour Court found that Cheeverstown House Ltd unfairly dismissed Mercy Oshin and ordered the care organisation to pay her €3,500.

The ruling by the Labour Court overturns an earlier ruling by an adjudication officer at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that the dismissal was not unfair.

Ms Oshin had worked as a care assistant at Cheeverstown House from 2007 to 2016.

On the night of November 1, 2015, Ms Oshin was on duty at one of Cheeverstown House's care homes for the sole purpose of assisting a resident, 'S', in case of an emergency.

At 1.30am, Ms Oshin was boiling two eggs but abandoned them for some time, resulting in the water boiling dry and the smoke alarm sounding.

Cheeverstown told the Labour Court: "This could have resulted in a fire putting the service users at risk, the very thing that the complainant was there to prevent."

In the evacuation, Ms Oshin lifted 'S' out of the house rather than use the wheelchair provided for this purpose and this was contrary to fire evacuation training and to evacuation procedures applicable to 'S'.

When the all-clear was given, Ms Oshin again carried 'S' back into the house, breaching health and safety procedures - this was disputed by Ms Oshin.

In her evidence, Ms Oshin accepted she had caused the fire alarm to activate and had carried out resident 'S'. Ms Oshin told the hearing she was surprised and disturbed to be sacked as she had a long and good record.

In its findings, the Labour Court found that "there is no doubt that an incident of this sort in a house occupied by four people, two of whom are very vulnerable and in need of assistance, is a very serious matter".

The court found, though, that Cheeverstown "has not proved their case that the dismissal met the tests of reasonableness and proportionality".

Irish Independent

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