The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been fined €500,000.00 by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after admitting breaching health and safety legislation relating to an incident involving the death of a paramedic. The paramedic was in the rear of a moving ambulance when he heard a rush of wind indicating that the ambulance door was not properly closed. As he went to close the door using the lever he fell out of the ambulance and sustained serious head injuries.
The ambulance door had hinges at the rear which meant that they can get caught in the slipstream if opened while the ambulance is moving.
Unfortunately some three years before the fatality there had been a similar problem with the doors in which a paramedic also sustained serious head injuries. After that incident the HSE engaged the services of an expert engineer to investigate and make recommendations but the court was told that not all of the recommendations had been fully implemented at the date of the fatal incident.
The court was also told that at the time of the earlier incident, the HSE was waiting on delivery of about 40 ambulances with similar doors. The manufacturers had offered to alter the doors to remove the danger, but the HSE had refused.
The HSE pleaded guilty to failing to have a written assessment relating to the rear-hinge side door of an ambulance. It also admitted failing to ensure employees had adequate training in the operation of the rear doors.
Passing sentence on 27th June 2013 the judge said “A fine doesn’t reflect, in any case, the seriousness of what this court is dealing with. No fine can ever restore [the deceased paramedic].”
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