The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 imposes obligations on Victorian employers to provide and maintain a safe working environment for their employees, and to provide the training and supervision necessary for employees to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.
Our Client’s Story
Our client joined Victoria Police and commenced her training at the Academy.
During her training, our client was given standard issue tactical pants to wear as part of her uniform. Immediately, she found the pants to be ill-fitting; as though they had been designed for men and not women.
If she went up a size, the pants gaped at the waist, creating issues with her gun belt not fastening properly. She found that the pants significantly restricted her movement, and she asked during her training if she could be allowed to wear a different style of tactical pant which had a better cut and allowed more movement. Her request was denied.
Our client was not the only one to complain, and the Police Association lobbied to have the tactical pants changed to a different style. Victoria Police maintained that the uniform pants were appropriate.
One day, our client was performing a training drill which required her to close her baton by lunging down and slamming it against the ground. As she lunged, her movement was restricted by her uniform pants, causing strain on her right knee. After performing this drill many times our client suffered an injury to her right knee.
Our client lodged a WorkCover claim and obtained medical treatment. Her physiotherapist wrote to Victoria Police to say that the restriction in mobility caused by the standard issue pants had most likely caused her knee injury. He requested permission for her to wear a different type of pant called the 5-11 tactical pant.
Victoria Police finally agreed to allow our client to wear the 5-11 pant, although she had to purchase the pants herself then claim reimbursement.
Since her injury she has had multiple operations on her knee and nerve block procedures in an attempt to alleviate her pain.
Redlich’s was able to assist our client to obtain a substantial pain and suffering damages payout as a result of her knee injury. We argued that the ill-fitting uniform posed a risk to her health, meant our client was not able to perform her work safely, and that her employer had not met its OH&S obligations.
To her credit, our client managed to return to modified general policing duties in between her surgeries. She continues to work hard at her rehabilitation but sadly, her knee will never be the same and her treatment continues.
While we and our client were thrilled with the outcome, her case is a sobering reminder of the lasting impact a failure to provide a safe and adequate system of work can cause.
If you or a loved one have suffered a work related injury, it is important to get legal advice to know your rights and entitlements. To arrange your free initial consultation, contact our legal team on (03) 9321 9988 or submit an online enquiry.