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Injured port worker awarded €55,000 for workplace accident A court has criticised Malta Freeport for failing to ensure the safety of its employees, ordering it to pay over €55,000 in compensation to one worker who had been unable to work for 13 months after an accident at his workplace. Philip Vassallo had been working on board the MV Karina in November 2012 , which had been berthed at the Freeport in Kalafrana at the time. During a container unloading operation, Vassallo had fallen a height of two metres from a platform and sustained grievous injuries in the process. Vassallo had taken his erstwhile employers to court, holding it responsible for loss of his earnings, which he said had been caused by the company’s failure to implement the necessary safety measures. Several other port workers had also been injured in similar circumstances, Vassallo had alleged in his submissions. In his decision on the matter, Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff, presiding over the first hall of the civil court, noted the company had not filed any submissions in its defence and that the plaintiff's account had been corroborated by a colleague. Whilst acknowledging that there were no specific legal provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety Act which dealt with the job in question, employers were still obliged to implement the necessary safeguards, the court held. The company was still bound to ensure “a safe place of work,” even though the vessel did not belong the Freeport. By failing to erect a protective railing around the platform, the company had failed in this duty. No risk assessment had been completed before the unloading operation and the surfaces had been made slippery with oil, it noted. “It was only in the aftermath of this incident, that the Freeport had issued instructions whereby port workers were ordered not to unload any containers if there would be no protective railings,” Mr. Justice Mintoff observed, adding that the employer had neither appointed a safety officer, nor had it taken action, in spite of being made aware of the risks involved. The injured worker had worn all of the safety equipment with which he had been provided and that his fall had not been the result of his own negligence. As a result the company was held to be entirely responsible for the injury. In calculating the amount to be awarded in damages, the court accepted Vassallo's calculation of lost income over the 13-month period of recovery – a cool €71,600, a sum he had based on his colleagues' income. The amount was reduced to €55,141 after tax, however, after the court turned down the plaintiff's request that the award be tax-exempt.