Mushroom Picker Sues Over Fall From Unsuitable Picking Platform

A mushroom picker injured her back when she fell from an unsuitable low platform while picking from an upper shelf of a mushroom growing facility, the High Court heard. Mother of two, Ewa Rolbiecka (aged 51), who is Polish and has been living in Arklow, Co Wicklow, since 2006, is suing her employer Michael Kennedy of Kennedy Mushrooms farm, Arklow, over the accident on January 3, 2016, in a mushroom-growing "tunnel". Mr Kennedy denies negligence and pleads contributory negligence.

She claims she was not provided with proper equipment and fell because she had to stand on a low platform to reach the top shelf of mushrooms she was required to pick. She had one foot on the low platform and the other on the middle mushroom shelf when she became unbalanced, she said. She fell hard on her right foot on the concrete ground surface, jarring her back. The accident, the court heard, caused compression of the nerve root in her back.She was taken later to hospital by her husband and underwent various treatments and medications but continued to suffer ongoing back pain. She was unable to return to work but wants to go back, initially on a part-time basis, her counsel Paul Burns said.

READ MOREMan found guilty of abusing daughter has conviction quashed over error in his barrister's closing speech to juryShe had been employed at Kennedy's since 2007 without any problems until the accident, counsel said.It is claimed there were not enough high platforms or trolleys to go around to reach the top shelf with the result that the method used by Ms Rolbiecka was regularly used by the workers. It is alleged the caster wheels on some of the high platforms did not work properly which meant they could not be moved around.Management knew this method of reaching up standing on a low platform was common practice but there was never any warning not to do so, it was claimed.It is alleged the defendant was negligent and in breach of duty by not making sufficient serviceable, safe or adequate high platforms available, permitted an unsafe system of work and did not provide adequate training.The defendant denies the claims and pleads contributory negligence because Ms Rolbiecka failed to use the available platform.

She still has significant low back pain and has been found by two occupational therapists unfit to return to work unless her condition improves, the court heard.The case continues.

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