Aycicek v Flowline Industries Pty Ltd

"Mr Dohrmann gave evidence of measures that could have been taken by the respondent to lower the risk of injury..."

Case: Aycicek v Flowline Industries Pty Ltd

Date of Judgement: 6 March 2019

Court (Location): Supreme Court of Victoria

Expert (for the Plaintiff): Ted Dohrmann, engineer and ergonomist, Dohrmann Consulting

Solicitors: Zaparas Lawyers Pty Ltd (Plaintiff); Wisewould Mahony Lawyers (Defendant)

Legal Matter: Plaintiff claimed damages against his employer in respect of spinal injuries he alleged he suffered where he lifted, without assistance, a full crate of electrical components that weighed approximately 62 kilograms

Court Decision: Plaintiff was awarded $336,770 (38% contributory negligence by plaintiff)

Extracts from Judges Beach, Kyrou and Emerton JJA's comments in relation to evidence provided by expert witness engineer and ergonomist Mr Ted Dohrmann.

Paragraph 31: Mr Dohrmann, an expert engineer and ergonomist, gave evidence on behalf of the applicant. His evidence was that he weighed a full crate of fuse boxes at 62 kilograms. There was no challenge to this evidence. Mr Dohrmann gave evidence of measures that could have been taken by the respondent to lower the risk of injury, including by performing a manual handling risk assessment and implementing risk controls, such as lifting devices, trolleys and having two workers to lift the full crates.

Paragraph 32: In cross-examination, Mr Dohrmann said that he did not attempt to lift the crate, because it was far too heavy to lift, although, as he put it, he ‘already had an idea of how heavy it was, of course’. Mr Dohrmann agreed that it would be obvious to anybody that the crate was heavy, and that he did not need a NIOSH equation[5] to tell him that the crate was too heavy to lift, but he had been surprised on many occasions to find that people had lifted very heavy objects without considering that activity to be a problem.

[5]: Mr Dohrmann explained what a NIOSH equation was in his evidence-in-chief. As he described it, it is a method of analysis for assessing the risk of lower back injury due to lower back stress associated with certain manual lifting tasks carried out while in a standing posture.

Full court report can be accessed via the Australasian Legal Institute - Aycicek v Flowline Industries Pty Ltd.

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