Employee awarded $112,500 after accident in the workplace

Date: Sep 13, 2018

At work, employers have a legal duty of care to ensure workers understand operational procedures in such a way that enables them to work safely and comfortably at all times. However, sometimes that standard of safety slips, causing accidents in the workplace.

How did sheet metal-manufacturer company Duct hold up in the NSW District Court after being faced with a tough worker compensation claim?

What happened in the workplace?

The subject of the case had been working at Duct as a general hand from September 2014. Part of his job involved operating a 100-tonne capacity hydraulic brake press. The press was designed to bend material between a moving ram and a fixed plate.

Duct had purchased the press in April 2014 which came complete with a manufacturer’s manual. However, the manual was not used in conjunction with training employees responsible for operating the press, nor did it contain information regarding the safe operation of the machine.

When the press was fitted, Duct was recommended to secure one part of the press in place (the light curtain) by the manufacturer. This was to ensure extra safety when under operation. However, Duct declined this offer.

On 4 October 2014, the subject was operating the press when he noticed it was not working correctly. He called over his supervisor who resolved the issue. However, the problem presented itself again, and after turning his head to speak to his supervisor, the ram descended, crushing four of the subject’s fingers. The fingers were amputated as a result.

Was the correct training implemented?

Following the incident, it appeared that Duct had not followed the correct safe operating procedures for the press. Additionally, no worker was permitted to use the press unless they had received training by the supervisor, yet training had not been provided to adjust the light curtain.

The court found Duct in breach of failing to train employees on the safe operating procedures of the press as well as prohibiting workers to operate the machine until properly trained – something that could have easily been prevented.

However, because the offender entered a plea of guilty to the Amended Summons at the earliest chance possible, they received a discount of 25 per cent on the intended penalty of $150,000. Therefore, Duct were convicted and fined $112,500, and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs.

If you’ve had an accident in the workplace that wasn’t your fault, you may have a worker compensation claim on your hands. Get in touch with the experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to find out how we can help build your case.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.