Last December a security guard received $2.2 million in compensation fees, after sustaining a serious lower back injury from a wet weather slip at his place of work, the Port Botany container terminal.
The man, who was injured nearly 10 years ago, fell as he entered the gatehouse – a demountable hut held up on steel beams – where he and other guards were posted.
The court heard the gatehouse lacked a grab-rail for guards to lean or rest on; an awning to prevent water pooling on rainy days; and an intermediate step between the pavement and the entrance to the structure.
Justice Stephen Campbell of the Supreme Court of NSW held that an awning and an intermediate step would have been sufficiently reasonable precautions against the risk of slipping. He stated that a grab-rail was a possible alternative, but that placing an intermediate step between the pavement and the entrance to the gatehouse would have been ideal.
The guard’s employer and site’s occupier were found to have separately failed their duty to monitor and maintain the gatehouse as a suitable place of work, the court determined.
The negligence resulting in the man’s injuries were two-fold, the court found. First, the site’s occupiers had failed to install the necessary safety precautions to reduce the risk of slipping on rainy days. Second, the employer had failed to petition the occupier to make the relevant renovations.
The court arrived at the $2.2 million sum by taking into account the injuries suffered by the security guard, the psychological problems and chronic pain he endured and the man’s subsequent incapacity to obtain meaningful employment due to these ongoing issues.
Accordingly, the site occupiers were ordered to pay just over $1.3 million, with his employer footing the remaining $900,000.
This case demonstrates the need for businesses to have proper reporting and monitoring procedures in place, relating to workplace health and safety.
Does your organisation understand and comply with WHS/OHS laws? Speak to GRC Solutions today about our Work Health and Safety courses for more information.
Source: Workplace OHS