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Worker's unsafe system trumps employer

26 September 2013

On 20 September 2013, the Court of Appeal consisting of Muir, Morrison JJA and Wilson J handed down its decision in Heywood v Commercial Electrical Pty Ltd [2013] QCA270.  Muir JA wrote the leading judgment with which the other judges agreed. 

The Plaintiff failed at trial on the basis that he was the author of his own misfortune in cutting himself on a sharp piece of metal.  The plaintiff knew the offcut was sharp and placed it on a toolbox close to his ladder and subsequently cut himself on the hazard.

The Plaintiff succeeded on appeal on the basis the employer failed to provide him with a safe system of work, leaving him to devise a system of work which was inherently unsafe.

Further reasons were delivered by Morrison JA:-  " ... it is wrong to say that it was the appellant who created the danger.  True it is that he cut the piece of steel on the day he was injured and placed it on the toolbox but all he was doing was what his employer had sanctioned."

This case demonstrates the high onus on the employer to take reasonable care to provide a safe system of work, including taking steps to save a worker from himself where injury is foreseeable.


For more information contact:

Cameron Seymour | Partner
Mullins Lawyers
t +61 7 3224 0360
f +61 7 3224 0333

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