A worker in the ACT has been awarded $1.4 million in damages after suffering a back injury sustained through manual handling. He had attempted to restrain a pressure cleaner, weighing 105kg, which rolled towards him whilst he and two co-workers were loading it into a commercial van.
His employer tried to defend the allegation of negligence by claiming to have in place a policy requiring forklifts and ramps to be used to lift heavy items – and confirmed that a forklift was available on the day of the incident.
A company director also told the court he was reluctant to tell older workers to use ramps and forklifts for heavy items because he thought “they would not like him” if he did.
The company director also claimed the worker contributed to his own injury as he should have known the risks associated with manually lifting the cleaner. The court rejected this assertion, finding the employer failed to enforce a safe system of work.
We have seen many manual handling cases where the employers have unsuccessfully attempted to defend expensive injury claims.