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Lawyers furious over diminished workers' rights

Lawyers furious over diminished workers' rights

A legal professional body is furious over a court decision that upholds an employer's appeal not to pay compensation to a worker.

A legal professional body is furious over a court decision that upholds an employer's appeal not to pay compensation to a worker. 

The Australian Lawyers Alliance says the South Australian industrial relations court decision shows injured workers are the bottom priority when it comes to rights. 

In the appeal of Cobham Aviation Services Ltd vs Roger Hillman, the court heard whether the industrial magistrate had the power to order the engineering company to pay $8000 for pain and suffering to Lee Priestly, whose fingers were crushed while working at the company by a guillotine clamp used to cut steel.

Cobham, in not having a guillotine guard, was found, under the 1995 Occupational Health, Safety & Welfare Act, to have failed to, as far as reasonable possible, offer a safe place for Priestly to work.

“The fines go to the government, but where is the compensation for workers injured through no fault of there own? Why are they left with the liability of their injuries?” ALA SA president, Anthony Kerin, said today.

“So why shouldn’t [he] be entitled to be compensated for pain and suffering?

"Every worker should have the right to know the environment they are working in is safe. And when their lives are affected by failure to do so, they should be properly compensated,” Kerin said.

“Priestly’s injuries fell 1 per cent below the whole body impairment threshold of Section 43(5) of the WRAC Act, but he is still left with impairment. Where is his right to recover some of his loss from those at fault?

“This is a prime example of the erosion of common law rights in this state. It means more people will continue to suffer when injured at work with no recognition for their pain and suffering, under a system that is constantly failing those it is supposed to protect,” Kerin said.

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