ACT News


Payout for injury in scaffold collapse

A man rendered bedridden for months by a workplace accident has been awarded more than $300,000 by an ACT court.

Joshua Jeremiah Bole broke his leg after falling two metres from shoddy scaffolding in 2009.

Justice John Burns ordered the scaffolding company to pay Mr Bole $311,530 in a judgment handed down in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday.

The decision comes a month after the ACT government published the findings of its inquiry into work and health safety.

The 95-page report, Getting Home Safely, contained 28 recommendations calling for a complete overhaul of safety training, enforcement and culture.

The inquiry was called by Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Simon Corbell in July after the fourth workplace death in the ACT in under a year - a record number of fatal construction accidents.


The court heard Mr Bole was disassembling scaffolding at a Calwell building site in February 2009 when the structure twisted and collapsed.

The experienced scaffolder fell two metres, breaking his femur.

Mr Bole was taken to the Canberra Hospital, where he had surgery.

The court heard the accident left Mr Bole virtually bedridden for six months and unable to drive for nine months. Ongoing pain in his hip and knee resulted in three further operations in 2010.

Medical reports said the accident and treatment resulted in a permanent 1.7 centimetre shortening in his leg, giving Mr Bole a limp.

Mr Bole started job hunting in 2011 but a recruitment agency dropped him from its books after 18 weeks because of his physical restrictions.

At the same time, he hit the gym and shed 20 kilograms. He became interested in fitness and is studying to work in the industry.

Justice Burns on Friday found Mr Bole's employer, Territory Scaffolding, negligent because the scaffolding was shoddily constructed.

''There can be no doubt that the plaintiff suffered a significant injury … in the accident,'' Justice Burns wrote. ''I accept the evidence as to the circumstances of the accident, the injuries he sustained and the effects those injuries had upon him.

''The claim is moderate and supported by the medical evidence.''

But Justice Burns declined to make an allowance for future wage loss, writing that Mr Bole was now in a position to earn as much as he made as a scaffolder.

''The medical evidence establishes he is fit to work,'' he wrote.

''It was suggested by his counsel that I should make some allowance for limited future wage loss but I do not consider that appropriate.

''Any loss which the plaintiff may now suffer as a personal trainer is a consequence of his decision to pursue this type of employment.''