Following Orders Does Not Equate to Contributory Negligence
Despite numerous complaints to the supervisor that the pipes were too heavy, workers were ordered to carry multiple 70kg pipes by hand.
The worker was awarded $900,000 in damages after receiving a disabling musculoskeletal injury which left them permanently unable to work.
The employer had unsuccessfully argued that the worker should be held partially liable for their own injuries, with the judge finding that:
“the employee had no real choice but to adopt the unsafe system of work”
The judge found that by not providing a suitable lifting device the employer had failed to meet their duty of care, in particular, the failure to provide a safe system of work.
For more information on the management of musculoskeletal injuries, see the hazardous manual tasks code of practice.
A full court summary can be found at Woods v Murray River Council.