Worker’s injury claim caused by defective equipment wins $638,000

Suffering a back injury

Darren Verney suffered a back injury in the course of his employment with the Defendant, whilst engaged in the construction of an accommodation village for the Coppabella open cut coal mine west of Mackay.

Mr Verney was transporting blue metal in a wheelbarrow when the wheelbarrow suddenly turned over, causing the Mr Verney to lose balance and tumble down an embankment.

The Plaintiff suffered a serious back injury as a result and Mr Verney’s evidence was simply that “something broke”, causing the work incident.

The Plaintiff could provide only a limited description of the wheelbarrow and no pictures were offered to the Court.

Faulty equipment and unresolved complaints

A co-worker gave evidence that a bracing strut had given way causing the barrow to fall and the incident to occur.

He also gave evidence of a history of failures and repairs to the wheelbarrows supplied by the employer, and that there had been unresolved complaints about their condition and of other equipment at toolbox meetings.

These allegations were supported by other co-workers who reported that “wheelbarrows would continue to snap”.

A breach of duty owed by the employer

On this basis, His Honour concluded that there had been a breach of duty owed by the employer to Mr Verney.

Damages were assessed at a sum of $683,000 based on Mr Verney being unable to return to full time employment in his parents’ electrical business.

You can read the case in its entirety at the following link: Verney v The Mac Services Group Pty Ltd [2014] QSC 057 North J published 31/03/2014.

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