Bord na Mona instructed to review bullying policies at inquest into tragic death of Kildare man

Deceased employee's family claim he was bullied at work

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Bord na Mona instructed to review bullying policies at inquest into tragic death of Kildare man

The deceased man worked at the Drehid facility

An inquest yesterday into the death of a Bord na Móna employee, whose family claims had been bullied at work, has recommended that the Newbridge-headquartered company review its bullying and harassment policies.

In his verdict on the death of 52-year-old Peter Duggan, who was found dead at the Drehid waste management facility on August 29, 2017, Kildare coroner Dr Denis Cusack said the company should look at the lines of responsibility and how notes are recorded into investigations of alleged bullying.

Dr Cusack concluded that Mr Duggan, from Allenwood North, had taken his own life.

The coroner also recommended that the Health and Safety Authority review the 2007 Code of Practice with regard to who in a company is responsible for investigating and recording instances of alleged bullying and harassment.

The non-jury inquest, held over two days, on April 29 and on Monday, May 13, comprised almost 10 hours of evidence. It heard about a number of alleged instances in 2012 and 2013, in which, it is alleged, the late Mr Duggan was bullied.

A transcript of evidence of over 200 pages from the first day was available for the second and final day of the inquest.

The inquest heard that Mr Duggan’s wife, Catherine, had been left a note by her late husband, stating that he was being bullied at work.

The family say Bord na Móna management had not addressed the concerns at the time.

Three potential bullying  incidents were alleged, including actions involving bleaching and urine with regard to a mug, and another with regard to the scraping of a jeep owned by Mr Duggan.

In evidence to the inquest, Roddy Molloy, a Health and Safety Authority inspector, said that he and his fellow inspector interviewed a number of parties, including staff at Bord na Móna, and a family member of Mr Duggan.

They  found no level of evidence which would comprise a legal definition of bullying.

Mr Molloy said the evidence that was available led to the conclusion, by a separate HSA committee on the facts the two inspectors gathered, that the allegations did not meet the criteria for bullying. They were once-off alleged incidents, which had not taken place over a period of time and were “not considered work related”, he said.

Mr Molloy said certain actions could be inappropriate but did not meet the criteria for bullying.

Mr Molloy said that, while there was a Code of Practice and Bord na Móna had one, there was some confusion in this instance over who in management was ultimately responsible for recording such instances.

Dr Cusack concluded that there was an “incomplete record” of the investigation proceedings into the alleged bullying by Bord na Móna.

Evidence was given by Pat Flynn, an immediate superior to Mr Duggan, that the deceased had been in Dorset the Wednesday prior to his death, and had seemed in great form.

He gave evidence of finding Mr Duggan’s body near his jeep at the Drehid waste facility around 5.40pm on the day in question.

Mr Flynn said he was told on January 9, 2018, when being interviewed by gardaí, that a note had been left for Mr Duggan’s wife by Mr Duggan.

Mr Flynn said he would have had differences of opinion with Mr Duggan from time to time, and always tried to resolve them.

He was aware of an alleged incident involving Mr Duggan’s jeep when it was scratched. That incident has been brought to his attention by Michael Doyle, another Bord na Móna employee.

Mr Flynn said he was aware of other incidents, but only by way of hearsay.

Dr Cusack sent his sympathies to the Duggan family and the Bord na Móna staff who had been involved in the case.