A former Coles employee was awarded a payout by the ACT Supreme Court recently for injuries received after falling off a safety step in store. The unnamed woman received just over ONE MILLION DOLLARS. This is a substantial payout but doesn't seem at all unreasonable in the circumstances; the poor lady needed a hip replacement after the accident and will likely need another in the future. And you'd have to assume someone's done their maths correctly** and taken into account all the past and future medical expenses and loss of income (about half of the payout was awarded for past and future loss of income, according to the article).
The issue at the heart of the case seemed to centre on the fact that the plaintiff did not receive any training in the use of the safety step and had "simply copied what another worker had done". And, as the judge said, "calling a step a safety step does not make it so." So true. (I've also notice that calling myself Dr on my magazine subscriptions isn't making me enrol in a PhD any faster). Coles lawyers, on the other hand, argued that the risk from the step was obvious, so obvious in fact that training was not required AND (and this is the crazy bit ) EVEN AN UNTRAINED PERSON CAN USE A STEP. Do my eyes deceive me, Coles? Did I read that right, Coles? Are you completely MAD, Coles? Going on a step is not something that should be undertaken without an intensive training regime. WON"T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE RISKS!!!!
In order to make sure this kind of mishap doesn't happened again, I took the liberty of drafting a set of steps (sorry) that will minimise the danger of step-related misery in the future:
STEP 1: To get onto the step, raise ONE leg at a right angle until the foot is level with the top of the step. (DO NOT attempt to do this with both legs at the same time. This is called a 'jump' and is not the optimal way to get on a step.)
STEP 2: Place ONE foot on step and push the rest of your body up so that both feet are on the top step.
STEP 3: IMPORTANT: Keep BOTH feet on the step AT ALL TIMES. (If one foot comes off the step this is called a 'fall' and is not the optimal way to get off a step)
STEP 4: To get off the step, lower ONE leg and place ONE foot on the floor. Repeat with other leg. (Do not attempt to do this with both legs at the same time. See Step 3).
You're welcome, Coles.
*It's a fact universally acknowledged that a blog post without a heading is in want of an 80s song reference
**Not always easy for lawyers. Lack of mathematical ability is often why our professional options were so limited in the first place