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Employer not negligent in crane road accident

Millard v RI-CO (2004) Pty Limited (In liquidation) [2014] QSC
Ann Lyons J
15 April 2014

An employer was found not to be negligent in its duty of care after a worker was injured driving a crane on a public road without permission.


The employer (defendant) hired a Franna mobile crane for use at its Acland Mine site. The crane had to be returned on completion of the work. The worker (plaintiff) said that he was required by the defendant to return the crane to a hire location near Brisbane and that driving the crane by road involved unreasonable risks of injury. The defendant contended that the crane was to be returned on a low loader.

The evidence presented indicated that such cranes are large, heavy vehicles with limited manoeuvrability on public roads, particularly at speed.

The plaintiff lost control of the crane as a vehicle approached in the opposite direction.


The court found that the plaintiff was not directed by his employer to return the crane to Brisbane by road, and that his superiors were unaware of his intention to do so. It was also found that the plaintiff was taking the crane to his residence to use it there. The accident occurred when the crane travelled onto the shoulder of the road to give sufficient room to an oncoming car and then went off the road as a result of an overcorrection by the plaintiff.


The court was not satisfied that the defendant should have foreseen the plaintiff's inappropriate conduct, nor that the defendant should have warned him not to use equipment he was not entitled to use. It was found that the crane was suitable and appropriate for safe and effective work at the Acland site.

The court found that the plaintiff was not injured as a result of the defendant's negligence or as a consequence of its breach of the terms of his employment with them.