Principal contractors and construction firms in general need to be aware of a case that took place in The Act recently during which an injured worker was awarded a substantial pay out after hs employer was found negligent.
The man, working as a steel fixer at the time, was carting sheets of steel reinforcing mesh on the site when his co-worker tripped over an unmarked hazard and fell causing the mesh to fall on top of him. The worker then bent forward and was trapped under the steel mesh sheet. The man’s pain continued to deteriorate over time until it became so debilitating that he was barely able to walk.
The man was thereafter further abused by his supervisor who kneed the worker in his testicles for refusing to do work that aggravated the pain of the injury.
The company responsible, City Steelfixing ACT was sued by the injured worker, Wayne McCauley and was awarded a $930,000 payout.
The incident happened over the 2005-2006 period during which time the man was seriously injured but his injuries were ignored by his employer.
An article on www.CanberraTimes.com.au explains what happened:
Mr McCauley had been lugging sheets of steel reinforcing mesh, which weighed between 60 and 80 kilograms, when his workmate tripped over an unmarked hazard and fell.
The mesh then fell on Mr McCauley, forcing him to bend forward and trapping him under the sheet.
He felt pain in his back but continued to work after a 10-minute cigarette break.
A sore Mr McCauley returned to work the next day but his condition deteriorated to the point where he could barely walk.
He said he felt shooting pain that he described as 10 out of 10.
Medical treatment helped him get back to what he described as 70 per cent and he was given the green light to return to work on light duties in April 2006.
But he was abused and then kneed in the testicles by his boss after refusing to do work that required bending over and heavy lifting.
Mr McCauley subsequently began another job but injured his back within months while bending over.
During the court case it was confirmed by medical experts that Mr McCauley had suffered a prolapsed disc and nerve root damage when the steel mesh fell on him. The injury was aggravated even further by the work he was forced to undertake during his employment. The court found that the employer was negligent because it failed to inspect the worksite and identify the hazards beforehand. They allowed hazards such as uncapped reinforcing rod to go unchecked and subsequently a worker suffered serious pain and anguish. For this the company was forced to pay Mr McCauley $930,795.
The judge went on to further explain why he believed the situation warranted such a hefty payout to the worker,
Master Mossop said before the accident Mr McCauley was a fit and active man who enjoyed hard work and physical recreation.
”Since the initial period after the accident the plaintiff has suffered ongoing back pain with periods of intense disability caused by temporary aggravations of his condition.
”He is likely to suffer ongoing back pain and acute flare-ups for the rest of his life, although some improvement may be possible with further rehabilitation.”