Most businesses in NSW are required by law to obtain workers compensation insurance to protect themselves from the costs of workers compensation claims. Workers' compensation insurance covers employees who have been hurt at work. Workers' compensation covers weekly wages, medical and hospital expenditures, as well as several other benefits to assist injured workers in recovering and returning to work.
A recent case explores why workers’ compensation is necessary to help protect both employees and employers.
In this case a man employed as a truck driver was required to load cattle onto his truck and drive them to the sale yards. As he was trying to load the cattle onto his truck one of the bulls became tense and refused to move from the back of the pen. The man tried to enter the pen to encourage the bull forward, but it pushed him up against the loading dock causing him significant injury.
The employee sued in the Supreme Court claiming that his employer failed to provide him with a safe work system because it had not warned him to not to enter a pen with an irritable animal. His allegation was that his employer was liable for the injuries obtained because it breached its duty of care.
The employer argued that they did not breach their duty of care and were not liable for the employee's injuries because the employee was an experienced truck driver, and therefore should have understood the risks involved with handling the bull.
The Court found that the employer was in fact responsible because the costs of taking precautionary measures were so insignificant that, even if it was doubtful that an employee would put themselves in such a dangerous situation, a reasonable employer would have made sure that such behaviour was preventable.
This case shows the obligations employers have in ensuring that their employees have a safe workplace environment and appropriate training regardless of prior experience.