A worker has been awarded nearly $2m in damages arising from a portable alarm left in an office.
The computer draftsman suffered whiplash injuries when the defective gas detector left in the office suddenly activated.
The court found the company was vicariously liable for the negligence of the operations staff who left the faulty alarm in the office unattended, where workers not used to unfamiliar alarms or loud noises might be expected to react abruptly.
The logic of the judge was that the gas detector was designed to “go off suddenly” if a life-threatening situation arose where the risk of injury from a startled reaction was justified.
The court said safer alternatives were readily available to the operations staff including de-commissioning the gas detector by removing the batteries or storing it somewhere else.