Worker sacked for napping in JCB shovel

A worker was sacked by a manufacturing company after his line manager found him taking a nap in the loading shovel of a JCB, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has heard.

It was one of two complaints that resulted in a finding of gross misconduct against the worker, which ultimately led to him being fired by his employer last year.

The other complaint related to an incident in which the man had been observed using a metal bar to ‘poke’ inside a machine without isolating it from its electrical source.

He subsequently took a case against his former employer for unfair dismissal, which was the subject of an adjudication hearing by the WRC.

The worker, who was employed as a general operative by the manufacturing company, contested the decision to dismiss him on the basis that there had been a lack of fair procedure and natural justice during the disciplinary process.

He also claimed that the company had failed to prove the two charges against him, and that there had been an undue delay in putting the allegation to him about sleeping on the job.

The WRC heard evidence that the company’s assistant production manager had observed the worker “poking” at a machine on August 12, 2016, without isolating it from its energy source.

He had stuck a metal bar inside the machine where there was a motor. No risk assessment had been carried out prior to undertaking the task, the respondent company claimed.

Three days after this incident, a line manager claimed to have found the worker asleep in the loading shovel of a JCB, which was parked in a coal shed.

A decision was made to suspend the worker on full pay pending investigation on August 24, 2016.

The investigatory report issued on September 14, 2016, which referred to the two separate complaints.

At a disciplinary hearing on September 26, the decision maker found that the first complaint was satisfactorily proven, relying on the fact that the worker had admitted working on the machine earlier in the disciplinary process.

In relation to the complaint of sleeping in the loading shovel while at work, the decision maker found on the balance of probabilities that he had been “at least resting if not actually sleeping”, and concluded that the charge had been proven.

In her decision, WRC adjudication officer Marguerite Buckley

concluded that, while the process undertaken was not without fault, overall it was comprehensive and fair.

Accordingly, Ms Buckley found that the worker’s claim of unfair dismissal had failed.

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