By Jeremy Sollars
The Southern Downs Regional Council is being sued for more than $543,000 by an employee through a personal injury claim lodged with the courts in early February.
Documents publicly available through the District Court of Queensland state the claimant – who the Free Times has chosen not to name – is claiming damages against the council totalling $543,098.75, plus interest and costs, following a workplace accident alleged to have occurred in September 2017.
The claim – lodged with the court on Thursday 6 February – states the male employee was at the time of the alleged incident working as an operator at one of the council’s water treatment plants in the region.
As part of his duties, the operator was required to take delivery of loads of aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH), which was “decanted” from a delivery truck into a storage tank using pumping equipment.
The pump was bolted onto a steel base plant and together with a steel handle weighed an estimated 39.5 kilograms, with the claim stating that the pump would at times be delivered to the treatment plant from its storage location via a utility either by the plaintiff or another employee, “depending on time availability and conflicting work duties”.
On the day of the incident, it is alleged that the plaintiff was required to manually load and unload the pump on and off the utility unassisted and that during the course of unloading it at the treatment plant he “twisted through the torso”, resulting in severe “lower back” injuries, including “vertebral disc protrusion of the lumbar spine” and “nerve root compression”.
The claim alleges that the employee had “on numerous occasions” prior to the incident complained about the loading and unloading of the pump and requested that a “second pump be purchased which could be permanently stored” at the treatment plant where the employee was based.
As a result it is claimed that the council as an employer was negligent and breached its duty of care to the employee, resulting in injuries which have caused “pain, suffering and discomfort”, “significant loss of the amenities of life” and “economic loss and earning capacity”.
The claim amount includes “general damages”, “past and future loss of earning capacity” and future medical expenses.
The council is yet to lodge a reply to the damages claim with the court.