The HSE has been fined €500,000 for health and safety breaches which led to the death of a paramedic who fell out of a moving ambulance. The breaches revolved around the presence of “suicide doors” on the side of the ambulance. These are doors with hinges at the rear, meaning they can get caught in the slipstream if opened while the ambulance is moving. 

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the HSE was aware of the risk after a similar incident occurred in Kerry in 2007. This incident resulted in a paramedic suffering serious head injuries. The court heard that following this, several safety recommendations were made which were not implemented by the HSE.  A Health and Safety Authority inspector also said that at the time of the 2007 incident the HSE was waiting on delivery of about 40 ambulances with similar doors. The manufacturers offered to alter the doors before delivery to remove the danger but the HSE refused.

Imposing the €500,000 fine Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted the HSE “is a public body which has many demands made of it. Those demands are ever increasing and resources are ever diminishing“.

The HSE pleaded guilty to failing to have a written assessment of the risks to the safety, health, and welfare of an employee relating to the rear hinge side door of an ambulance on Jun 3, 2010 at Dr Steevens Hospital, Dublin 8. They also admitted to failure to ensure employees had adequate training in the operation of the ambulance rear doors.

Employers must be aware of the importance of Risk Assessments being carried out, and action plans followed. As an employer there is a liability on you to ensure a safe environment for your employees and address any risks that may be presented.


This story appeared in the Peninsula Ireland Blog on 28th June 2013. The full article can be found here: