A driver and waste management worker claimed in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that a new relationship he was in ended after he suffered a hypodermic needlestick injury to his hand.
He alleges in a €60,000 damages claim against Dublin City Council that when he helped a fellow worker lift a heavy sack of refuse a needle attached to a syringe went right through his left hand.
The 39 year old man, of Crumlin, Dublin, stated that in July last year he had been collecting refuse at Greyhound Lane, off Grosvenor Square and Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin, when the accident happened.
He claimed the rubbish was being brought to the end of the lane where it would later be picked up onto a lorry by a mechanical grab.
He was wearing only cloth gloves at the time yet claimed he had been doing a very dirty job which involved all types of rubbish which included many discarded items.
Following his injury he had been driven to St James’s Hospital where he had been treated as “a high risk for transmission of a blood borne virus”.
He had been prescribed a “high risk post exposure prophylaxis medication pack” and referred to the Guide Clinic at St James’s, which screens for transmission of blood borne viruses, for follow up.
The claimant alleged that a new relationship he was in at the time of the incident ended over the needlestick injury.
He had suffered anxiety over the possibility of transmitting a virus to others and had difficulties dealing with “the banter and remarks” from friends and colleagues.
Barrister John Nolan, who appeared with Kent Carty Solicitors for the Claimant, told Judge O’Connor that following talks the case had been settled and could be struck out with the payment of legal costs.
Details of the amount of settlement were not publicly divulged in court.
Seems likely that a H&S prosecution is now likely due to the Claimant not wearing ore appropriate gloves, and either no being provided with them or not being trained/supervised to make sure he was indeed wearing better gloves. However, that criminal case would usually precede civil action so presumably there was a decision against action against the employer.
We must use cases such as this as a reminder of the diversity of sharps injuries that occur with domestic refuse as much as clinical wastes and discarded drug litter. It also highlights the profound psychological damage that can result from any sharps injury, even if infection does not arise.