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Business Briefs: Spending on safety doesn’t protect firms from lawsuits

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Compensation claims cost private and public enterprise at least £700 million last year, the employers’ group IBEC estimates. Indeed, the IBEC’s policy director, Brendan Butler, said that figure was conservative, adding there is evidence to suggest payouts could total as much as £1.2 billion.

Butler said an increasing number of claims were taken against businesses even though companies were spending more on health and safety.

"The situation flies in the face of reality," Butler said. "An awful lot of claims are exaggerated," he added, pointing out that, in many of these claims, people who slip or trip rarely break bones but almost all of them suffer back injuries.

Similarly, he said, while most car accidents do not result in serious injuries, those involved "develop whiplash."

More on property prices

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A new report by a Dublin stock brokerage suggests that rising home prices can be linked more to the soaring incomes of high earners than to the lending policies of mortgage institutions. And, while house prices are still rising, the report, from NCB Stockbrokers, shows that those who can afford to buy are actually borrowing less of the total price than before. While house prices have almost doubled since 1994, the average loan as a proportion of house prices has actually fallen during this period to 63 percent.

Investing in Ireland

Want to ride the Celtic Tiger even though you’re not living in Ireland? On April 27 at 6:30 p.m. in The Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel, Lexington Avenue and 56th Street, financial planner Patrick J. Duffy will host a seminar on new investment opportunities in Ireland, and their tax advantages, for non-residents. Details, call Duffy at (212) 755-7736.

Building giants

Liam O’Mahony, 52, will succeed Don Godson as chief executive of CRH, formerly Cement Roadstone Holdings, next year.

O’Mahony has 28 years of experience at CRH and is no stranger in the U.S., where the company has major investments. He joined the board of CRH in 1992 and became chief executive of Oldcastle Inc., the holding company for CRH’s North American operations, after Godson left the position to move back to Dublin in 1994. O’Mahony worked as a civil engineer in Ireland and the UK before joining CRH in 1971.

The North American operation generated 54 percent of the CRH’s group trading profit, and 53 percent of sales, in 1998. CRH has nearly quadrupled in value since Godson took over in October 1994. Then the company’s market capitalization was £1.3 billion. Its sales have more than doubled from £1.6 billion to £4.1 billion in 1998, and are expected to reach about £4.7 billion in 1999. Pretax profits have nearly tripled to £322 million in 1998.

CRH has operations throughout the Americas, including Argentina, Asia, and Europe.

IBO news

The Irish Business Organization of New York will hold its annual golf outing on June 23 at New Jersey National Golf Club, Baskin Ridge.

The New York business networking breakfast will take place April 28 at 8 a.m. in the Mezze Restaurant, on 44th Street.

The New Jersey business networking breakfast will take place May 4 at 8 a.m. in the Grasshopper 2 Restaurant in Carlstadt.

The next IBO monthly meeting will take place May 12 at 7 p.m. in the Shelburne Hotel in Manhattan.

Chemical worker shortfall

It’s not only in computer software and electronics that Ireland is seeking suitable people for hire. The chemical and pharmaceutical sector, one of Ireland’s most vibrant industries, anticipates it will have a shortage of 755 skilled staff between now and 2000.

"There is widespread concern that the industry will not be able to recruit sufficient graduates due to the severe drop in the numbers taking science subjects in the leaving certificate and a parallel decline in demand for places in sciences in the institutes of technology,’ states a report from the industry.

Travel tip

The landmarks of Ireland, England and Scotland are featured in the Irish & British Voyager, a 15-day escorted vacation from CIE Tours International. This three-country trip is priced from $2,415 from New York or Boston on Aer Lingus or British Airways. Departures run weekly from May 2 to Oct. 3. Another tour, the Scottish & English Discovery, is a 9-day escorted vacation priced from $1,529. There will be six departures on dates between May 8 and Oct. 9. Details, 800-CIE-TOUR or call a travel agent.

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