€36,000 for worker who was injured at Freeport

The Freeport has been ordered to give €36,000 in compensation to a worker after it was found responsible for an accident in which he was injured.

Mario Galea filed the case at the First Hall of the Civil Court against the Malta Freeport Terminals Limited and John Aquilina whom he held responsible for the accident on 21 December 2014.

Galea was working as a tally-clerk when at around 4.20 p.m. a truck driven by Aquilina crashed into a cart which was being pulled by the cabin in which Galea was riding.

The cabin forms part of the gantry crane stationed on the quay and with the impact,  Galea was hurt and spent a few days not going to work while Aquilina was suspended for a month and a half.

The Freeport said that it could not be held responsible because Aquilina had caused the accident, while Aquilina insisted that he was not responsible because he had been given instructions to pass from there.

After listening to the testimony of various employees, Judge Toni Abela said that Aquilina passed through an area which was prohibited by the Freeport because the lanes were blocked by other parked trucks.

He said that this used to happen regularly when the company had the obligation to ensure that it did not happen and censured it for not doing anything to uphold the regulations.

Judge Abela also condemned the Freeport for penalising workers by deducting their pay if the work was not done quickly enough.

He remarked that workers were being placed under pressure to take certain decisions and carry out risky manoeuvres so that they can finish their work quickly and this was adding to potential risks for the staff at the workplace.

The Court stated that Aquilina passed through the prohibited area not because he was negligent but because he had found himself in a position where he could not do otherwise.

He added that after this accident the company put up signs for the lanes on the upper top part of the gantry crane so that the tug master drivers would have an indication of every lane under the gantry lane.

For this reason Judge Abela held the Freeport responsible for the accident.

The compensation was worked out on the basis that Abela had suffered a disability of 12% and was almost 50 when the accident happened.