Belfast Telegraph

£44,000 for worker who injured back while lifting washing machine

By Alan Erwin

A worker who injured his back lifting a washing machine at an electrical retailer's distribution warehouse is to receive more than £44,000 in damages.

Marek Belkovic was awarded the payout after a judge at the High Court in Belfast found his employers negligent and in breach of their statutory duty.

Lord Justice Gillen identified failures at the former Dixons premises in the provision of proper training and instructions for someone with poor English.

Despite rejecting allegations of racism in the case as being completely unfounded, the judge held that insufficient steps were taken to ensure the migrant worker understood his tasks or the risks.

He said: "I believe the plaintiff that he was regularly lifting items such as this washing machine manually with the assistance of his brother and this ought to have been observed and stopped."

The Slovakian sued DSG International PLC and First Choice Selection Services over the accident in July 2005. At the time he worked for Dixons - then a high street retailer of domestic goods - in loading and unloading the store's stock.

In a case where his brother acted as his legal assistant, he claimed to have been moving more than 100 appliances of various sizes every day.

Mr Belkovic told the court he collapsed to the ground and was writhing in pain after lifting one washing machine to place on top of another.

His supervisor stressed that no such injury was reported to him.

Justice Gillen said forklift trucks should have been used to lift all palletted goods onto delivery lorries, and that inadequate instructions were given.

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