Over €3m paid out for injuries suffered in military training exercises 

Estimated total cost of claims in the system comes to more than €10m
Over €3m paid out for injuries suffered in military training exercises 

Seventy-two members of the Defence Forces have shared €3.2 million in damages for claims over personal injuries sustained in military training exercises over the past seven years.

In total, the bill to the State arising from successful personal injury claims by the Defence Force members from military training exercises totals €5.27m.

Along with the €3.22m paid out in damages, an additional €2.05m was paid out in legal costs by the State.

However, the overall estimated bill from injuries sustained by Defence Force members during military training exercises between finalised claims and claims currently in the system is €10.84m.

This follows the estimate by the State Claims Agency (SCA) — which handles the claims made against the Defence Forces — that the current liability from personal injury claims from military training exercises that are not yet finalised stands at €5.57m.

Average payout of €44.7k

The figures provided by the Minister for Defence, Simon Covene, to co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy TD, show that the average damages payout to defence forces personnel over the seven years was €44,750.

The SCA has confirmed that the injuries sustained include hearing/sight injuries along with musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries.

Other injuries sustained include emotional/traumatic suffering.

Last year, the SCA paid out €481,100 in damages to nine claimants, while an additional €329,811 was paid out in legal costs.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act

Asked to comment on the figures, Gerard Guinan, the general secretary of the representative body for members of the Defence Forces, PDForra, said Defence Forces members are subject to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act in the same manner as other employers and therefore relative to past practises “training has become safer”.

Mr Guinan stated that as the figures show “accidents do happen” and PDForra does all it can to point out potential dangers to members.

"Members of the Defence Forces are somewhat unique in the public sector, as they have to complete annual fitness tests and medicals in order to remain in service," he said.

Injuries that impact on the ability of personnel to perform their work can have profound effects on career progression or even retention in the services.

Commenting on the figures, Catherine Murphy TD said: “Firstly, it has to be recognised that personnel in the Defence Forces are at a higher level of risk because of their profession so it’s not surprising to see injury claims.

We, however, need to ensure that lessons are learned and risks are mitigated to reduce the possibility of injury and any claims in the future that can be avoided. 

A spokesman for the Defence Forces stated: “All Defence Forces training is conducted in line with the relevant Defence Forces Regulatory documents such as Training Instructions. Defence Forces Regulatory documents are amended where and as required in line with any court ruling or judgment.” 

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