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Routine tasks not posing foreseeable risk of injury

Rudd v Starbucks Coffee Company (Australia) Pty Ltd [2015] QDC 232

Bowskill  QC DCJ

22 September 2015

In this case, the District Court found the employer not be in breach of its duty to its employees.

Her Honour Judge Bowskill QC dismissed the Plaintiff's claim for damages for an injury allegedly sustained to her knee when she crouched down to access a power point.

The facts

The Plaintiff, who was employed as a barista, was required to plug in the cord of a blender. She said that she crouched down with one knee on the floor to access the power point which was under a bench.
She alleged to have sustained injury to her other knee in the process.

Allegations against employer

There were a number of allegations. They included:

  • failing to instruct the Plaintiff in correct posture,
  • improper positioning of the socket,
  • allowing the work area to be awkward and cluttered.

Trial judge's findings

The evidence established that it was unlikely that a person would sustain an injury to their knee from squatting to access a power point, there had been no prior injuries, and no risks identified or prior complaints about the task.

In so far as the risk of harm was foreseeable at all, the Judge found that it was insignificant.

In the circumstances there was no breach of duty.

Further, the Judge found that there had only been a mild injury sustained to the Plaintiff's knee and not the dislocation of the patella she claimed. This was due to inconsistencies in the reporting of the injury.