$750,000 lawsuit filed over box of laundry detergent

A BOX OF laundry detergent has ended in a lawsuit for more than $750,000 for Yeppoon Woolworths.

Christine Newell, now 51, of Kawana, has begun legal action against the supermarket giant for a workplace injury.

Documents were filed in the Supreme Court at Rockhampton in December 2019.

Ms Newell was employed by Woolworths as a grocery assistant/longlife team member at the supermarket at Yeppoon Central shopping centre from around 2009.

She suffered a spinal injury in 2006 and it is claimed this injury was disclosed during her job interview.

The workplace incident occurred on April 8, 2016.

According to the statement of claim, Ms Newell had been working since 5am and spent the first two hours scanning boxes of stock and loading the boxes into mobile stock cages.

It is alleged Ms Newell knelt down in front of the full stock cage with her left foot flat and right knee on the ground and reached into the bottom of the stock cage to get a box of liquid laundry detergent.

According to the statement of claim, the box contained six two-litre bottles of liquid detergent and weighed more than 12kg.

Ms Newellput her right hand on the top front corner of the box and her left hand under the bottom, pulled the box towards herself and as she stood up and twisted she felt a sudden and sharp pain in her lower back which caused her to "scream".

It is claimed Woolworths should have had systems in place that boxes of more than 10kg were not lifted by workers, provide annual training in safe lifting procedures and provide supervision of employees to ensure they were using safe lifting techniques.

The lawsuit, filed by Matthew Dunlop of Maurice Blackburn Rockhampton, is for $787,877.94.

"Despite being aware of our client's pre-existing spinal injury, the defendant failed to implement a system of work and training around the lifting of heavy stock items," Mr Dunlop said.

"As a result, she sustained a significant muscular skeletal spinal injury and a disc bulge as well as a major depressive disorder from her injuries.

"Our client has required treatment by her general practitioner, an orthopaedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon and can no longer carry out her previous duties.

"She will also need ongoing treatment and medication to manage her symptoms."

According to the statement of claim, Ms Newell was unable to return to her full duties of employment with Woolworths and as a consequence, her employment was terminated on April 21, 2017.

Woolworths submitted an intention to defend in January however there was a change of solicitors last month. No defence has yet been filed.


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