Was the employee who failed to follow her employer’s instructions to blame for her own injuries? Which case won?
Woman commences employment for large organisation
In 1974 a woman secured an office job in a large Australian organisation. Her duties required her to perform typing work on a coding machine.
She was provided with a metal chair that had a padded seat, a backrest and a left-sided armrest, but not a right-sided armrest. The employee’s keyboard was positioned at lower than elbow height on her right-hand side, thereby causing the woman’s posture to bend to the right.
The employee had been trained to perform around 10,000 keystrokes per hour. She worked at her own speed and her job was very repetitive.
The employee had an option of moving the keyboard to a higher position and her employer had told her to do this, but she ignored her employer’s instructions and kept using the keyboard in a way which ultimately led to the injuries.
Employee diagnosed with tennis elbow and suffers intermittent pain
In late 1977 the woman was diagnosed with having lateral epicondylitis, also known as “tennis elbow”, in both of her arms. For a time, she also suffered from medial epicondylitis, or “golfer’s elbow”.
The woman suffered ongoing intermittent pain in both arms, with the pain being more pronounced in her right arm.
The woman sued her employer, claiming that it had been negligent by structuring her work in a way that exposed her to the risk of injury, which in fact eventuated.