Worker awarded $930,000 for injury
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Worker awarded $930,000 for injury

A Canberra steel fixer who hurt his back while carting reinforcing mesh has won $930,000 in compensation.

Wayne McCauley sued his employer City Steelfixing ACT after he was injured and assaulted on the job in 2005 and 2006.

Mr McCauley had been lugging sheets of steel reinforcing mesh, which weighed between 60 and 80 kilograms, when his workmate tripped over an unmarked hazard and fell.

The mesh then fell on Mr McCauley, forcing him to bend forward and trapping him under the sheet.

He felt pain in his back but continued to work after a 10-minute cigarette break.

A sore Mr McCauley returned to work the next day but his condition deteriorated to the point where he could barely walk.

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He said he felt shooting pain that he described as 10 out of 10.

Medical treatment helped him get back to what he described as 70 per cent and he was given the green light to return to work on light duties in April 2006.

But he was abused and then kneed in the testicles by his boss after refusing to do work that required bending over and heavy lifting.

Mr McCauley subsequently began another job but injured his back within months while bending over.

Medical experts gave evidence that Mr McCauley had suffered a prolapsed disc and nerve root damage when the mesh fell on him, which had been aggravated in his subsequent employment.

Master David Mossop, in a judgment handed down in the ACT Supreme Court this week, ordered City Steelfixing ACT pay Mr McCauley $930,795.

''I am satisfied that the defendant was negligent in that it failed to undertake an inspection of the site to identify hazards such as the uncapped reinforcing rod and take steps to eliminate the hazard,'' Master Mossop wrote.

''I am also satisfied that the negligence of the defendant caused … the injury to the plaintiff.

''I find that the defendant was negligent in permitting the plaintiff to be assaulted in the circumstances that he was.''

Master Mossop said before the accident Mr McCauley was a fit and active man who enjoyed hard work and physical recreation.

''Since the initial period after the accident the plaintiff has suffered ongoing back pain with periods of intense disability caused by temporary aggravations of his condition.

''He is likely to suffer ongoing back pain and acute flare-ups for the rest of his life, although some improvement may be possible with further rehabilitation.''