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Injured worker awarded compensation from faulty welding

Connor Boccalatte
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20 June 2024

Tattersall v Dormakaba Australia Pty Ltd [2023] ACTSC 390

On 6 February 2019, Benjamin Tattersall (the Plaintiff) was injured in the course of his employment when a chain box for a manually operated roller door fell on the Plaintiff's head causing a deep laceration to the back of his head.  The Plaintiff sustained a mild traumatic brain injury and psychological injury as a result of the incident.

Two days following the accident, an engineer inspected the site and found that the reason for the failure of the roller door motor and injury to the Plaintiff, was due to faulty welding completed when installing the mechanical component.

As a result, the Plaintiff claimed damages for negligence from the First Defendant, being the company that was responsible for preventative maintenance on the roller door.

He has also claimed damages from the Third and Fourth Defendants. The Fourth Defendant was the person who the Plaintiff alleges performed the welding which secured the chain box to the building. The Third Defendant is the company of which the Fourth Defendant was a director.

The proceedings against the Second Defendant were settled.

The Decision

On 14 December 2023, the ACT Supreme Court provided their judgment in favour of the Plaintiff in the sum of $347,470.00.

The First Defendant

The First Defendant had a contract with the ACT government for the maintenance of the roller door in question, along with a significant number of other roller doors on the site.

The First Defendant quoted for the installation and was awarded the contract by the ACT government.  The First Defendant subcontracted with Capital Doorworks for the installation of the chain boxes. Capital Doorworks supplied the chain boxes and contracted with the Third Defendant for the installation of the chain boxes on the site. The Fourth Defendant performed the installations.

The First Defendant admitted their duty of care to the Plaintiff however, the scope and standard of that duty was in question.

Although the First Defendant’s duty was clearly limited to the scope of activities required by its contract, it also extended to people who were employees of the ACT government who worked in the building.

It was also held that the First Defendant’s standard of care extended to determining the safety and operability of the roller doors, and specifically the adequacy of the welds to perform their function.

It was clear that there was a foreseeable risk of harm if the mechanisms of the roller door, including the chain box, were not secure. This involved inspecting the method of securing such parts as well.

Therefore, the First Defendant’s failure to inspect and ensure the welds were adequate was causally related to the harm suffered by the Plaintiff.

First Defendant as Occupier

The Court did not accept the claim by the Plaintiff that the First Defendant was also separately liable as an “occupier”. The extent of control that it had over the premises pursuant to its contract with the ACT government was not sufficient to make it an “occupier”.

Third and Fourth Defendants

The liability of the Third and Fourth Defendants depended upon whether or not the welding that failed was done by the Fourth Defendant.

The Court held that, on the balance of probabilities, the Fourth Defendant had installed the chain box and had completed the inadequate welds which failed, resulting in injury to the Plaintiff.

The Court held that the welding completed by the Fourth Defendant fell below the standard reasonably expected of a person installing chain boxes and this failure caused the injury to the Plaintiff.

The Third Defendant is responsible for the conduct of its officer, the Fourth Defendant.

How we can help

The Compensation Team at Wallace & Wallace Lawyers are experienced in all aspects of Compensation Law.

If you are dissatisfied with your current representation, our experts can also offer a second opinion.

If you, or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, at work, or due to someone else’s fault, or you want a second opinion, call us on (07) 4963 2000 or contact us via our online contact form for practical legal advice on how you should proceed. We can assist.