Plaintiff awarded $225,000 in damages after workplace fall

Date:Jun 06, 2019

Over the 12 years between 2003 and 2015, slips, trips and falls led to 23 per cent of serious claims, according to Work Safe Australia.

While these were caused by environmental factors 56 per cent of the time (same source), some incidents occur as a result of workplace negligence. This was evident in a recent case brought before the District Court of NSW where one worker fell from a great height after his employer failed to put the correct precautions in place.

Background of the employer

At all times, the employer was involved in providing commercial painting and decorating services. It was responsible for allocating duties to, and supervising, the plaintiff, who was employed with the company on February 22, 2016.

Background of the accident

The employer had been hired to construct two residential towers known as the East Tower and the West Tower. The West Tower was 29 levels above ground, with four basement levels below the ground.

There were a number of subcontractors involved in the project, one of which was responsible for carrying out alterations and additions to the screens, and another responsible for any works required on the edge of the concrete slab.

When the screens were erected, the subcontractor was instructed to instal barricades and static lines to prevent workers from accessing the area.

On February 22, 2016 at approximately 6:30 a.m., the plaintiff arrived at the construction site to commence painting.

At this time, no static lines had been installed on the screens. The plaintiff was tasked to go to level 27 and begin painting the external walls. There was no warning against working where there was not a static line, nor were there any barricades stopping access to the screens or workplace.

As he commenced work, he walked along the platform of the level 27 screen. Upon doing so, he fell through the unprotected gap and through to level 25. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries, including rib fractures and a laceration to the back of his head.

What did the court decide?

The employer and subcontractors expressed remorse and pleaded guilty for workplace negligence. They implemented improvements to workplace operations to reduce the risk of future accidents. Despite their efforts, the court concluded that the incident was serious, and the plaintiff was at a risk of death. As such, the employer and subcontractors were ordered to pay a combined total of $225,000 in damages to the plaintiff.

If you've been involved in a workplace incident that occurred as a result of negligent behaviour, it's important you're aware of your options. For more information on workers compensation, get in touch with the legal experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners today.

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