Expert Opinion on Liability (Case Studies)


Bill Contoyannis is a University of Melbourne graduate with a Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He completed a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering Science at Monash University.

He has been involved in a broad range of rehabilitation and assistive technology areas and has contributed to the field area of prosthetics for over twenty years and with a range of activities including incident investigation, education, research, advice and clinical support.

He has been invited many times to present and lecture at a number of national and international forums and is an adviser to health departments, professional organisations and support associations throughout Australia.


Bill’s experience has led him to be a sought after consultant on issues including the design of products used in both the disability and general sphere. This has included the design of wheelchairs, artificial limbs (and the components included in these), patient lifting devices such as overhead support systems and portable patient hoists.

Bill’s biomechanics expertise is also applied top assessing system of work, production and product flow as it related to manual handling and general risk management issues.

Consulting work undertaken has included:

  • Assessment of hand – held card readers for use with public transport smart cards
  • Review and testing of office chairs to appropriate Australian standards
  • Workstation assessments for able and disabled users
  • Slip tests to establish the potential contribution of floor surfaces or general floor (and steps) to slips
  • Establishing ergonomic testing characteristics for bed and mattress design
  • Manual Handling Risk Assessments including
    • assessment of staff placing stock on retail shelves
    • Pick and pack warehouse staff
    • Production line staff handling fresh and frozen foods


Bill applies biomechanical principles to analyse and determine body forces, risk levels and causation of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as to determine the likely causes of a given incident. He gives evidence at court on slips, trips  and  falls as well as lifting, handling and force issues where injuries are alleged, and as an engineer Bill is well qualified to comment on systems of work, remedial measures and risk prevention generally.

Investigations undertaken include:

  • Assessment of stability of devices alone or clients when interacting with the device.

This has included:

  • The toppling over of chairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters,
  • People falling when using crutches, artificial limbs or orthoses.
  • The collapse of ladders, platforms, and structures during construction
  • Designs of ramps and platforms
  • Manual handling injuries to persons carrying or handling loads
  • Lifting and placing large loads into trucks and vans
  • Handling loads frequently and repetitively as part of pick and pack warehouse house or production line work
  • Frequent and repetitive work in nursing and pathology services
  • Falls from heights investigations involving:
    • Falling off balconies
    • Falling over scaffold at construction sites
    • Falling down stairwells
    • Falling through penetrations in floors or roofs
    • Falling of the edges of building, or swimming pools
    • The collapse of supports such as scaffold and roofing leading to a fall
  • Failures of components or devices including:
    • Chair collapse
    • Unexpected firing of nail guns
    • Failure of trailer hitch or vehicle winches
    • Failures of brakes, castors or other restraining mechanisms on vehicles or trolleys
  • Incidents involving exercise or amusement equipment including:
    • Trampolines falls, failures or collisions with other people (or nearby obstructions)
    • Treadmill falls
    • Injuries when using gymnasium equipment
    • Fall from amusement rides such as slides, drops, rope courses etc

Bill is an active member of the Forensic Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Assistive Technology Societies.

Memberships, Societies and Associations


Tel: (03) 9376 1844