Worker Suffers Knee Injury from Faulty Ladder

An interesting example of why it is so important to work safely with ladders in the construction industry was recently highlighted by an article on  According to the article a man employed as a block layer at a building site stepped off a platform and into a ladder. When the man placed his right foot on the ladder, the ladder gave way and believing he was going to fall, the worker tried to swing back onto the work platform and as a result suffered an injury to his knee.

The incident which occurred in June 2008 resulted in the block laying worker suing his employer for negligence which he believed resulted in the injury. According to the worker the ladder was defective and should not have been in use but should have been detected by his employers. The worker alleged that regular inspections of equipment were not taking place on the site which directly resulting in him using a defective piece of equipment and sustaining an injury to his knee.

The worker also alleged that his employer should have implemented a safe system of work which involved using plank clamps to stabilise the planks on the work platform, which also contributed to his injury.

The article on goes on to explain what should have been done in the same situation:

Obviously a reasonable person would have inspected the ladder shortly before it was used. The evidence established that both the person who had put up the work platform with the ladder and the block layer himself had tested the ladder for stability, so an inspection had in fact been made independently by two people.

 The bracket hinge on the ladder had indeed been defective, but there had been no visible evidence for it.

 A manufacturer of plank clamps gave evidence that the clamps were not usually used by block workers or brick layers. The block layer could not establish that the employer had been negligent by not requiring the use of such clamps.

 The block layer had not demonstrated that any action or lack of action by the employer had either caused or contributed to his injury or that the employer had been negligent. The claim could not succeed.

 Damages assessed — in case decision overturned

 The court nevertheless assessed potential damages. There was evidence from several medical practitioners of the block layer’s condition. It was variously called a complex regional pain syndrome or simply chronic regional pain syndrome. The man’s whole person impairment was assessed as between 30 and 36 per cent. The court accepted that his injury had been painful and he continued to suffer from the effect. However, it did not accept that he suffered to the extent he sought to demonstrate. The total damages assessment came to $1,115,959.


Although the court dismissed the claim employers as well as the worker could have acted in a more safety conscious manner. Workers are not devoid of responsibility on construction sites and have a duty of care to protect their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of their co-workers.

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