The VIC Court of Appeals has upheld the principle of professional expectations when it has dismissed a drivers claim that he was not responsible for an accident in a work vehicle because the business did not explain that the hand break was different than his usual vehicle. This important case is the subject of this weeks Case Review.
In early 2015 the worker was working as a delivery driver and was run over by his vehicle when, while he was standing next to the vehicle, it rolled down the hill it was parked on and ran him over.
It was found that the worker had parked the vehicle on a hill and had not engaged the handbreak.
The worker argued that the business had a responsibility to explain to him the operation of the handbreak in this particular vehicle because it was different to the one in the vehicle he usually operated.
Justice Keogh found that the worker as “an experienced driver of private and commercial vehicles” did not need to be trained on the “idiocrasies” of each vehicle and that it was his responsibility to “acquaint himself with and safely respond to the different functions or idiosyncrasies of the vehicle under his control”
The worker appealed the decision. The Victorian Court of Appeals upheld the decision.
Learnings for Businesses
“It is incumbent on businesses to ensure staff understand the risks, hazards and controls associated with their work. It is however, reasonable for the business to rely, to a certain extent, on the qualifications of the employee. An employee who is a licenced professional driver, can be assumed to have the knowledge and skills to identify and control risks associated with the operation of the vehicle for which they are licenced” explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.
“This case is one that draws a sensible line between the business reminding the worker of the general risks and the controls that are required – such as the risk of vehicle moving down a hill if unsecured and the control of a handbreak – while relying on the professional licenced nature of the worker to locate and utilise the handbreak” adds Elisha.
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Elisha Radwanowski BCom (HRM & IR)