Company ordered to pay €19,306 in compensation to injured worker
Charmaine Baldacchino Said, 39, was awarded €19,306 in compensation following an injury she sustained while working in a factory, with the court ruling yesterday that the company was responsible.
Baldacchino Said began working for Dedicated Micros (Malta) Limited in 1996 as a machine operator.
In 2008, she began feeling pain in her right hand and an orthopaedic expert informed her that she had recurrent lateral epicondytis.
A month later a doctor working on behalf of the factory told Baldacchino Said that she should register her sick leave and return to work a month later, and that she would no longer work on the power drive.
In 2009, she began to work on the same machinery, and again had to use her sick leave due to the condition in her right hand.
The company did not allow her to return to work unless she worked on the power drive, and after she took sick leave without pay in 2010, she resigned.
The court, which was presided over by Mr Justice Silvio Meli, was informed that the pain began to impede the woman’s sleep, and it was also told that the doctor employed by the factory said that the condition could have been caused by tennis elbow or because of her working conditions.
Baldacchino Said said that her personal doctor, an orthopaedic consultant, and a doctor appointed by the Authority for Social Security and Health Services all concluded that the pain in her arm was caused by arm vibration syndrome, which was a direct result of her use of the apparatus.
She went on to explain that she was informed that if she did not continue to work in the same position there would not be any more work for her; she tried to follow these instructions but the pain she experienced forced her to resign.
The company claimed that the apparatus that was provided to her was specifically designed to prevent injuries and it insisted that the machinery was used minimally in order for it to work better.
However, according to another employee, the company would in fact use the power drive every day and there were days in which they would use the device for eight hours straight.
Mr Justice Meli concluded that there existed a direct relation between the apparatus and the injury sustained by the woman. He went on to say that the company also did not implement a system of rotation between workers and did not work according to the diligence requested by law.
It was for this reason that Mr Justice Meli declared that the company was solely responsible for the injury and therefore had no right to order her to leave her employment and remain on unpaid sick leave.
When establishing the amount of compensation, Mr Justice Meli took into consideration that Baldacchino Said was 33 at the time she stopped work and suffered a 5% disability. For these reasons the company was ordered to pay her €19,306 in salaries and bonuses.