Forklift driver wins Handy Andy court battle against DHL
The man was fired due to incapacity related to an accident on the job
A forklift driver who suffered an injury on the job when Handy Andy sprayed into his eyes has won a five-year legal battle to get his job back.
Thabo Serakala, from Johannesburg, will be reinstated and also receive more than R300,000 in back pay.
Serakala was dismissed from his job in October 2014.
He was employed by global logistics company DHL, and was fired due to incapacity related to his health.
According to court papers, Serakala, who was employed as a forklift driver by DHL, was involved in an accident while performing his duties in December 2013/January 2014.
“Whilst packing pallets of Handy Andy at work, a bottle dislodged and fell on him. The Handy Andy sprayed in his eyes. He reported the incident to his supervisor and thereafter consulted with his private doctor,” reads the court judgment.
The company also referred the man to its own doctor, who recommended that he be seen by a specialist. The doctor also said Serakala was only fit for general work, but should not work on heights until his vision was corrected. He was also restricted from driving any moving vehicle.
He got prescription glasses and resumed his normal duties, but after this he was involved in several accidents while driving a forklift.
He attributed his poor eyesight to the Handy Andy that got into his eyes.
The company submitted a detailed account of the accidents to the court.
“On 11 April, the applicant was involved in an accident whilst driving a reach truck [forklift]. He tried to apply the brakes, but the machine did not stop and eventually crashed against the barrier of the front door and damaged the door.”
In August of the same year, he was involved in another accident, but there were no injuries or damages to the equipment. In that same month there was another accident during which some stock was damaged.
In September, the company called a hearing to investigate the extent of his incapacity.
It requested his detailed medical report, which he was unable to produce. In his response, he said he was unable to get the report from the doctor, as it had been six months since he had consulted the doctor.
Another hearing was held in October, and he was dismissed for reasons related to incapacity. He appealed but was unsuccessful.
He approached the CCMA and lost, and then turned to the Labour Court.
The court ruled that he be reinstated and also be paid back his salary from the date he was dismissed.
The court, in its ruling, lambasted the CCMA for not allowing Serakala an opportunity to tell his full story before making its decision.
“For the reasons already set out above, it is my finding that the applicant’s dismissal was both substantively and procedurally unfair,” reads the judgment.