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Horseplay not to be tolerated in the workplace

Goran Cincovic v Blenners Transport Pty Ltd

Supreme Court of Queensland [2017] QSC 320

Boddice J

20 December 2017

Background

Mr Cincovic was riding a pallet jack 'like a scooter' in the employer's depot, when a co-worker kicked it, causing Mr Cincovic to fall and sustain a severe back injury along with a secondary psychiatric injury.

Findings

The Court found that the employer was not directly liable for the incident. Even though the employer had not instructed workers not to undertake such activity, which was a breach of its duty, there was no evidence that the Plaintiff would have complied with any such instruction.

However, the employer was vicariously liable for the actions of the co-worker in kicking the pallet jack and thus causing the injuries.

Damages awarded

Mr Cincovic was awarded $791,514.71 in damages despite the Judge finding that he had falsified invoices for mowing services and that he exaggerated his evidence on the level of his ongoing disability and the impact on his day to day activities.

Discussion

Employers need to ensure that there are clear directions in the workplace, not to engage in activities which pose a foreseeable risk of injury. These directions should be communicated to workers and enforced. Workers should understand the consequences of their actions and that any risky activities are prohibited.