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Routine tasks not posing foreseeable risk of injury

Fatnowna v Acril Quality Testing Services Pty Ltd [unreported]

Baulch SC DCJ

25 September 2015

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

In the District Court of Townsville His Honour Judge Baluch SC was not persuaded that the routine task of shovelling coal provided any particular risk.

The facts

Mr Fatnowna had to shovel a small amount of coal into a skip bin in order to clear a path.

He claimed to have injured his back when he struck at the coal “forcefully”.

Allegations against the employer

The Plaintiff asserted that the coal was hard due to recent rain and that he struck the concrete surface underneath it.

He alleged there should have been a risk assessment before the task was undertaken, and that a dingo should have been used.

Trial judge's findings

The Judge found that the task was not an onerous one and it was a task which was only likely to take a few minutes. It did not represent a significant risk of injury or require any assessment before it was undertaken.
This was supported by the evidence that a co-worker had completed the task with no difficulty in a few minutes.

The Plaintiff therefore failed to prove any breach of duty.