Antoni Jamroziewicz, aged 52, of Caherdavin, Co Limerick, was about to cut a metre length of timber from a 1.5m plank when he lost his balance and fell. His left hand went into the saw and part of his index and ring fingers were severed from his hand. It was not possible to restore these fingers.
The plaintiff, who was born near Krakow, Poland, came to Ireland for a contract of work in 2007. The accident happened at 4.30pm on April 23, 2008. The case which continues today was brought against recruitment agency, O’Neill Brennan Ltd and German contractor Strabag International GmbH.
Mr Jamroziewicz said through an interpreter at the High Court, sitting in Cork, that about 10 other carpenters had been using the saw that day. The machine was off at the time and he switched it on.
“I took the plank and at this moment, I slipped, I lost balance, the surface was uneven, I stumbled on the uneven surface,” said Mr Jamroziewicz.
He told his counsel, Tom Creed, that his left hand went into the saw.
He said that, in the months after the accident, he felt angry and was unable to cope with what happened and began to drink to excess.
Mr Jamroziewicz said he managed to get some work in the years afterwards but tried to hide his left hand with the severed fingers. He said the prospect of work was initially unrealistic but he did return to work later.
Denis McCullough, representing the defendants, suggested the surface on which the saw was set was flat.
The plaintiff’s consulting engineer, Kieran Spitere, said the scene of the accident was described to him by the plaintiff and he testified yesterday that it would have been a simple matter to place the saw on a large plywood sheet if there was a problem finding a flat work area.
Mr McCullough said any experienced carpenter could have ensured the surface was flat by putting out such a sheet before using the saw. Mr Spitere said the saw was already on site and in use in the location before the plaintiff arrived to use it and Mr Jamroziewicz had nothing to do with setting it up.
Mr McCullough said that instead of falling the accident could have occurred as a result of carelessness by the plaintiff putting his hand too close to the saw.