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Tuesday 23 January 2018

RTE told to pay €18,500 after TV studio worker suffered fall

Grainne Cunningham and Ray Managh

RTE has been ordered to pay €18,500 damages to a props assistant after he fell during rehearsals for Brendan O'Connor's 'The Saturday Night Show' two years ago.

Arthur McMullen, who is a keen bowler, told the Irish Independent that his elbow had still not healed and he wasn't sure if it ever would.

The 59-year-old employee, from Roebuck Downs, Goatstown, Co Dublin, had worked in RTE for 38 years and had never had an accident until February 2010.

Hearing the case in Dublin Circuit Civil Court yesterday, Judge Jacqueline Linnane noted Mr McMullen had been working in poorly lit conditions in a cluttered studio at the time of his accident. There had been a lot of lamps and cables on the studio floor.

Barrister Paul Gallagher told the court that Mr McMullen was assisting with rehearsals for the chat show when he had fallen over a studio floor lamp and had injured his left elbow.

Mr McMullen said that on several occasions he had to free a drape that had become snagged up in a mirror ball and had fallen on his arm.

During the hearing, the judge watched a YouTube video, showing presenter Mr O'Connor leaving his host chair and holding back the drape himself, while cameras broadcast a number of The Overtones. On the video, entitled 'How pathetic is RTE', he told show producers: "I did warn you about this curtain."


John Murray, a rigger and colleague of Mr McMullen in RTE, said there was "an on-going issue with flying drapes" at the Donnybrook studios. Studios were not well-lit places and there would normally be a lot of floor lamps and cables around, the court heard.

Counsel for RTE said the station denied liability, saying Mr McMullen was an experienced props assistant and had to look out for his own safety in such an environment.

Civil engineer Paul Romeril, for Mr McMullen, and Stephen Mooney, for RTE, said they recently held a joint inspection during a "reconstruction" of what would have been the situation in the studio at the time.

They agreed that workers could be "distracted and more vulnerable" while working in studio situations but television studios inevitably had to have lights and cables lying around.

Mr McMullen told Judge Linnane that he still suffered from pain in his elbow.

Speaking to the Irish Independent after the hearing, Mr McMullen said he was "very pleased" with the award.

Commenting on the injury to his elbow, he said: "I am still having trouble with it". After the accident, his elbow had become inflamed and he had to take a course of antibiotics.

He also had physiotherapy and saidthat he was hoping that the pain will eventually go away.

Irish Independent

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