Former Woolworths worker awarded $650k for workplace injuries

by HCA30 Jan 2017
Michael Perkins will receive $650,000 after it was found that he was injured while he was a grocery and back dock assistant at Woolworths.

Cairns District Court heard that Perkins suffered a debilitating lumbar disc protrusion, surgical scarring to the midline of the lumbar spine and an adjustment disorder with depressed mood

HC contacted Woolworths for comment and a spokesperson provided the following comment:

Woolworths notes the judgement and is currently reviewing.”

The injuries were sustained in 2011 when Perkins was using a walk-behind forklift machine used for lifting pallets, otherwise known as a "walkie stacker".

However, at times during 2011, the walkie stacker did not work and a replacement machine was arranged which did not have an extender reach function or a side shift function, according to The Brisbane Times.

Perkins claimed that he and other employees used a steel bar to move pallets while using the hired walkie stacker.

Moreover, Perkins said during the trial that he did not receive training and found out about the steel bar because he came in one day and saw "that the other guy was using it and doing it that way".

Woolworths contested Perkins' allegations of complaining about needing to lever. However, they acknowledged it did not have a system of work involving the lever and did not complete a risk assessment.

The company's lawyers also argued there was no need for the levering because there was a safe way to load pallets.

Moreover, they claimed that his injuries were actually caused by a stepladder or by his work as a plumber which was evidenced by him going to a doctor on December 12, 2011.

However, Judge Morzone accepted Perkins suffered back pain radiating down his leg from November 3, 2011. Moreover, he acknowleged it became worse and went further down his leg as he continued working.

Morzone also said it was more likely than not that Woolworths' negligence in letting Perkins use the lever with the hired walkie stacker caused the back pain.

He agreed that Perkins was unable to work in his current state and his earning capacity was reduced.

Woolworths was ordered to pay Perkins $650,645.38.

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