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Key decisions

  • Deal v Father Pius Kodakkathanath [2016] HCA 31
  • Sio v The Queen [2016] HCA 32
  • Miller v The Queen; Smith v The Queen; Presley v Director of Public Prosecutions (SA) [2016] HCA 30
  • The Queen v Baden-Clay [2016] HCA 35
  • Maritime Union of Australia v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2016] HCA 34
  • NH; Jakaj; Zefi; Stakaj v Director of Public Prosecutions [2016] HCA 33
  • Murphy v Electoral Commissioner [2016] HCA 36

Occupational Health and Safety

Tort and statutory duties – Statutory construction

In Deal v Father Pius Kodakkathanath [2016] HCA 31 (24 August 2016) the High Court considered the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic).

The appellant, a teacher, injured her knee while climbing backwards down a stepladder after having removed several posters from a pinboard. A question at trial was whether it was reasonably practicable for the respondent to identify that task as one involving ‘hazardous manual handling’ and to control the risks of musculoskeletal disorders ‘associated’ with that task.

The trial judge found that the evidence could not support a finding that the appellant was engaged in a ‘hazardous manual handling task’ and took the issue from the jury. It was not in dispute that the task constituted ‘manual handling’ in the workplace, and that the injury was a ‘musculoskeletal disorder’. The High Court held that it was therefore also a ‘hazardous manual handling task’ because the load was unbalanced or unstable; the ‘force’ involved could be only minimal.

‘Associated’, in this context, meant that the injury needed to arise from, and be caused by, something intrinsic to the hazardous manual handling task. The Court held that it would have been open to a jury to find that it was reasonably practicable for the respondent to identify the risk of an injury associated with the task as one involving hazardous manual handling, and for the respondent to take steps to eliminate or substantially reduce that risk. French CJ, Kiefel, Bell, and Nettle JJ jointly; Gageler J concurring separately. Appeal from the Court of Appeal (Vic) allowed.

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