The plaintiff was laying pipes in a 2m deep trench near Hobart when the walls of the trench collapsed, trapping him under a thick layer of earth. The man had to be dug free and would probably have died of asphyxiation if other workers had not heard the trench collapse and rushed to his assistance.
The plaintiff was barely conscious when pulled free of the trench and was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion and a fractured nose and wrist. He was placed under 24-hours observation and had surgery to his nose and wrist.
Since the incident, the plaintiff was unable to return to work for six months as he suffered recurring migraines and had to see a psychologist to try and overcome his fear of working in deep trenches or tunnels. Plumbers are often required to go into tubes and tunnels to lay or repair pipes and/or cables. It is unclear at this stage whether the plaintiff will ever be able to resume plumbing work. Before the workplace accident, he was active as a semi-professional photographer. However, he now has problems focusing his eyes through a camera lens and has suffered additional loss of income from being unable to work on weekends as a wedding photographer.
Hobart court found that the plaintiff’s employees were negligible in failing to ensure that the walls of the trench that had been dug were reinforced with wooden beams and were thus culpable for the accident. The company was ordered to pay $XY in compensation for pain and suffering suffered by the plaintiff and for financial loss incurred as a result of current and future work liabilities and medical expenses. They were also ordered to retrain the plumber so that he can, if necessary, be redeployed in an office job or a supervisory role on a construction site.