A worker who fell off a hand-pallet jack while riding it like a scooter was recently awarded $800,000 in damages from his employer.
The employer, Blenners Transport Pty Ltd, was held vicariously liable when he fell on his head and sustained spinal injury and later developed a psychiatric condition, after a co-worker kicked the jack as he went past.
I know many of you reading this article will be thinking the world has gone mad and that we now reward idiots.
The employer defended the injury claim asserting they were not liable as the worker engaged in horseplay and used the pallet jack contrary to his training.
The Queensland Supreme Court rejected the employer’s position citing the employer had never told him specifically not to ride the pallet jack like a scooter and had not disciplined anybody for doing similar.
The injured worker also alleged the employer tolerated the practice and other horseplay, including using forklifts to do doughnuts on wet floors and lifting people on forklift tines.
The lessons from this case include:
- Be clear on what equipment is intended for and key prohibited practices
- Enforce your safety rules consistently with everyone
- Keep records of all training and disciplinary discussions or action.
Gary Rowe, CEO Safety Action Pty Ltd.