Bundaberg man sues painting firm after falling off ladder.
Bundaberg man sues painting firm after falling off ladder. John Weekes

WORKPLACE INJURY: Man sues firm for $1m after ladder fall

A BUNDABERG man is suing a painting firm in excess of $1 million after he fell off a ladder at work.

Jonathan Charles Adrian Rowe, 41, is claiming damages of no less than $1,065,831.12 for personal injuries he sustained on December 9, 2015.

Filed at the Rockhampton Registry earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Queensland claim alleges Higgins Coatings Pty Ltd, also known as Higgins Painting, failed to provide the Avoca resident with a safe work system.

"The defendent is directly and vicariously liable for any act or omission on the part of the supervisor in respect to the work," Shine Lawyers solicitor Rebecca Ballantyne wrote in the Statement of Claim.

"In the premises, the defendent owed the plaintiff a duty to take reasonable care for his safety when working at the home."

Mr Rowe was working as a contract painter on a job at Grace Haven Retirement Home at 71 Dr Mays Rd, Svensson Heights when the accident unfolded.

The Statement of Claim alleges Mr Rowe was told by his supervisor, project manager Keith See to paint the skylight area in the foyer of the aged care home on on December 9.

"The supervisor knew the plaintiff was working by himself," the document claims.

The skylight in question measured about 2.5m wide and 2.5m long.

According to the Statement of Claim, Mr Rowe was told to use an extension ladder to paint skylight area and not to block access to the hallway.

"And therefore he could not use scaffolding or any other work platform to stand on when painting the skylight area," it states.

Using a single-sided ladder that he placed on the linoleum floor and leaned against a wall, Mr Rowe climbed up the rungs until he reached a height of about 3-4m.

"The plaintiff placed witches hats ... on either side of the ladder and drop sheets to cover the floor," the claim says.

"The drop sheets were not placed under the feet of the ladder."

After finishing one side of the skylight area, Mr Rowe moved the ladder to a different section.

"The plaintiff used the same process ... to set up the ladder but could not tie the top of the ladder, or otherwise secure the ladder, to any fixture, when working in this section," the claim alleges.

"As (he) was cutting in a section of the skylight area he felt the ladder start to slip under his feet.

"He then fell heavily to the floor, landing on both feet (and) then landed on his bottom."

The Statement of Claim alleges Mr Rowe suffered serious injuries to both feet including a number of fractures.

"On account of his injuries the plaintiff has lost his employment, significantly reduced his employability in the future, has required medical treatment and will require treatment in the future," it states.

Due to the alleged pain, suffering and both past and future economic loss, as well as past and future medical costs, Ms Ballantyne argued it was "entirely appropriate that responsibility for the injury be imposed on the defendent (Higgins Painting)".

"The accident occurred because the plaintiff could not block access to pedestrian traffic in the hallway," the Statement of Claim says.

The document alleges that because the extension ladder couldn't be secured, there was no platform or scaffolding provided or allowed and Mr Rowe received no help in securing the ladder, the firm "failed to provide the plaintiff with safe system of work".

It also claims Higgins Coatings didn't carry out reasonable risk assessments of the work system.

"It was unreasonable and wrong to instruct the plaintiff to perform the work from an extension ladder without using a work platform or scaffolding without assistance and in an area where the ladder could not be secured," the document states.

Ms Ballantyne stated the company was negligent and in breach of its duty of care and had exposed Mr Rowe to a foreseeable risk of injury.

"There was a high probability that injury would occur to the plaintiff if care was not taken," the Statement of Claim concluded.

After the claim, filed on behalf of Mr Rowe at the Rockhampton Registry on September 6, is served upon Higgins Coatings Pty Ltd, the company will have 28 days to file a notice of intention to defend it or raise a counter-claim.

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