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April 2021

Employee walking in the dark falls into a ditch

Employee walking in the dark falls into a ditch

The case

Hubbard v CPB Contractors Pty Limited (No 2) (2020)

CPB Contractors Pty Ltd (CPB) operates across all key sectors of the construction industry, including roads, rail, tunnelling, defence, building and resources infrastructure.

On 5 October 2011, in the early hours of the morning, a CPB employee was patrolling the compounds along a highway, which were installed as part of reconstruction works. The employee was required to leave the road and walk across an area of vegetation and some long grass, when he fell in a ditch. He sustained an injury to his right knee, which later developed into a back problem.

CPB asserted that it had taken the preventative measure of installing a barrier around the ditch. This was disputed.

The judgement

It was found that CPB breached its duty by failing to ensure that the ditch was barricaded to prevent employees from walking into it. The Supreme Court of New South Wales made an order against CPB to pay the injured employee the sum of $1,212,281, which was comprised of lost earnings.

The lessons

Companies should ensure that proper signage and sources of light are installed in dark places.

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