9 August 2016 posted by Recovery Partners

A Queensland truck driver who was previously denied workers’ compensation for a workplace injury has won an appeal, partly because he was unaware that his actions were unsafe and not approved by his employer.

The injury

The truck driver was working at Blenner’s Transport in Queensland and was returning a pallet jack when he was injured. The issue related to how the truck driver was moving the pallet jack. The truck driver had been moving through the warehouse with his left foot on the left tine and pushing off the ground with his other foot. The action was similar to riding a scooter. When a co-worker ran behind the truck driver and kicked the right tine of the pallet jack, the truck driver lost his footing and fell backward. The fall caused the truck driver to fall to the floor and sustain back injuries.

The Workers’ Compensation Regulator refused compensation claiming that the driver was “on a frolic of his own” as part of banter and horseplay with the other worker and not on work duties. This decision was overturned on appeal.

While the truck driver and two other witnesses claimed it was commonplace to ride the pallet jack like a scooter in the workplace, the warehouse manager and operations manager denied this claim.

During the appeal, Commissioner Glynys Fisher found that the practice wasn’t commonplace, but it did happen occasionally and management had taken no steps to inform the workers that it was unsafe.

Ms. Fisher found that the truck driver had been performing his duties by returning the pallet jack to the truck, and while riding the pallet jack like a scooter was inappropriate, he was unaware that this was unsafe and not approved. Ms. Fisher found that the co-worker who kicked the pallet jack was skylarking, and without his intervention, the truck driver would have reached his destination without incident.

On 28 May 28, Ms. Fisher allowed the appeal and ordered the workers’ compensation application to be accepted.

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/