• International Workplace
  • 9 May 2017

Supermarket employee awarded $1 million after falling off step

A former employee of Australian supermarket chain Coles has been awarded over $1m by the ACT Supreme Court for injuries caused when she fell off a safety step.

34-year-old Nicole Marie Harris claimed that the supermarket was negligent by not providing training on how to use the step stool, which she had needed to use while straightening shelves, and instead she had simply copied what another worker had done.

Lawyers for Coles reportedly told the court the safety step was used by supermarkets across Australia, and no training was required to use this basic piece of equipment. However, Justice Linda Ashford disagreed, stating: "Calling a step a safety step does not make it so."

Harris told the court that her fall resulted in an injury to her right hip, which eventually had to be replaced. And despite lawyers for Coles suggesting she had not been as badly hurt as she said, Justice Ashford found in her favour. She said: "Clearly this has been a significant injury and the plaintiff will have continuing problems with her hip, leading almost inevitably to further hip replacement surgery."

Harris was awarded $1,088,468.53 in compensation, with $570,229 to cover past and future economic loss, $222,200 in general damages and $236,039 for past and future medical expenses.