In NSW a woman has been awarded almost $600,000 for injuring her back whilst using incorrect work methods.

In January 2010, the woman was assigned to work for a company, subject to a labour hire agreement. She worked within its factory premises as a production operator and was required to operate machinery by emptying 25kg bags of sugar, as well as 10kg bags of salt into a hopper. The tortfeasor provided lifters to assist, meaning there was no need for an operator to lift the bags until they were almost empty. She was shown how to operate these machines safely only once, at the beginning of her employment with them.

In December 2011, while emptying one of these bags of sugar, the woman injured her back and subsequently ceased work. She had not worked for the company since the accident. She was placed on light duties with the labour hire company until her workers compensation payments ceased at the end of 2012. Accordingly, the woman sued the tortfeasor for damages.

Last year, District Court Judge Phillip Mahoney found the woman had not followed the tortfeasor’s safe system of work, by using the lifter to assist her. Interestingly, the Judge also found they had not met their duty to ensure the safe system of work was complied with and “failed to properly supervise” their employee. His honour found that ‘but for’ the tortfeasor inadequately supervising the woman, she would not have suffered the injury, and found in her favour.

The tortfeasor appealed, however on appeal Justices Simpson and Rothman both sided with the primary Judge, in finding that she was only shown once how to properly empty the bags into the hopper and performed the task incorrectly for some time, without a supervisor correcting her.

The woman was awarded $588,515 for the following heads of damage;

  • Non-economic loss (physical harm suffered)
  • Past treatment expenses
  • Future treatment expenses
  • Past economic loss
  • Future economic loss
  • Future superannuation loss
  • Past gratuitous care and services
  • Future gratuitous care and services

Have you suffered an injury at work? Have you been told you were at fault and didn’t follow instruction?

Please do not hesitate to call us on 13 43 63 to speak with one of our Personal Injury Lawyers in New South Wales. Our offices are located in Sydney, ParramattaNewcastle, Penrith, Wollongong and Gloucester.