Court orders steel company to pay ex-employee for losing hand

Court orders steel company to pay ex-employee for losing hand
Mr Philip Wangala sued Steel and Tube Industries Ltd seeking compensation following the accident, which occurred in October 2013.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The High Court in Kampala has ruled in favor of former Steel and Tube Industries Limited employee Philip Wangala, ordering the company to pay him 100 million Shillings for injuries sustained while on duty.

Civil Division Judge Boniface Wamala issued the judgment, stating that the awarded amount would accrue interest at a rate of 10 percent per annum until fully paid. The case stems from an incident in 2013 when Wangala’s right hand was crushed by a leveling machine at the factory premises, resulting in permanent incapacity.

Wangala, who worked as a machine helper, filed a compensation claim against his employer, asserting negligence and failure to provide a safe working environment. Despite Steel and Tube’s defense of having provided proper induction and safety measures, the court found evidence supporting Wangala’s claim of inadequate safety precautions.

Justice Wamala noted that Wangala’s injury occurred due to a lack of proper safety measures, leading to the loss of fingers and a forearm. Despite the company’s arguments about the machine’s condition and safety protocols, the court found them liable for negligence.

The ruling underscores the employer’s responsibility to ensure workplace safety and highlights the consequences of failing to meet those standards.

“On the evidence before the Court, it was admitted by the Defendant/Steel and Tube that they owed a duty of care to the Plaintiff/Wangala. They only denied breach of the said duty stating that they performed their obligations in ensuring a safe working environment for the Plaintiff and other workers”, said the Judge.

The Judge found that Steel and Tube breached their duty to provide a safe working environment for Wangala, leading to his injuries. Consequently, the company was held liable for negligence based on the evidence presented.

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Despite Wangala’s request for punitive damages, the Judge declined to order Steel and Tube to pay them. The decision was based on the company’s mitigation efforts, which included providing terminal benefits, statutory compensation, and covering medical expenses. The Judge reasoned that these actions indicated that Steel and Tube did not act with impunity, bad faith, or gross misconduct, thus negating the need for punitive damages.

“The Plaintiff acknowledged that he was paid his terminal benefits calculated at UGX 997,406/= and a sum of UGX 8,280,000/= as statutory Compensation after deduction of medical expenses amounting to UGX9,927,500/=,” said the Judge.

Steel and Tube Industries Limited was directed by the court to bear the costs of the legal proceedings.