A NSW Court of Appeal has determined that a host employer should pay nearly $600,000 to a worker who injured her back because the company failed to ensure she understood its safe working instructions.

The Court found that had the worker received a “modicum of supervision” to ensure she was complying with its systems of works, the injury could have been avoided.

In other words if someone had have checked to make sure she was doing the job the correct way the whole thing could have been avoided.

The worker had severely injured her back lifting 25kg bags of dextrose into a hopper, which should have been slid along a mechanical lifter’s platform where, when slit, would have allowed gravity to empty the bags.

The Appeal Court Justices found the worker was only shown once how to empty the dextrose bags into the hopper, before routinely performing the task incorrectly without a supervisor correcting her.

“She adopted an unsafe work practice, and that work practice continued, uncorrected, until the day of her injury,” Justice Simpson said at the appeal sought by host company Jurox.

“There was no person whose role or responsibility it was to ensure that, once she had undergone the somewhat superficial training by a coworker the worker understood her instructions and complied with them,” she said.

Justice Simpson found that the employment hire company, Integrated Pty Ltd, didn’t breach its duty of care (even though it didn’t audit the workplace) because an audit would not have shown the inadequacies in Jurox’s supervision.

“The workers incorrect technique resulted, not from a conscious departure from what she had been taught, or even carelessness, but from the entrenchment of a practice that ought to have been, and could easily have been, corrected at an early stage,” Justice Simpson said.

Justice Simpson upheld the $588,515 award for damages.

 

This is a perfect example of a business not protecting themselves by allowing poor work practises to continue without intervention. To protect yourself, the business and the worker you must:

  1. Train them on the correct way to complete the job or use the equipment.
  2. Record the training.
  3. Review and inspect the work environment to make sure the correct techniques are being used by all the staff.

It really is simple to do the right thing and it can save you a great deal of money.

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