Cleaner sues boss for $1 million after workplace injury

AN industrial cleaner is suing her employer for $1 million after allegedly tripping on a step and falling down the staircase and hitting her head on a metal pole.

The plaintiff, Mary Louise Valler, of Gracemere, was working for the defendant, TK and KM Pty Ltd, at the time of the accident which were contracted to undertake work for the Burton Coal Mine Pty Ltd. Both companies are listed as defendants in the upcoming hearing.

The claim was only recently lodged with the Supreme Court in Rockhampton and the solicitors for Ms Valler said they were hoping for a trial date to be set down for sometime next year.

On July 13, 2009, Ms Valler, who was working as a heavy machinery cleaner, was at a barbecue function in the "wet mess" area of the Burton Mine Accommodation Village (where she also lived).

At 9pm she left the barbecue and walked off to her room but to get to her room she had to climb a set of stairs.  

The defendant is claiming, above the uppermost step was a landing of which the surface was uneven, unlit and without hand rails.

As Ms Valler went to step on to the stairs her foot allegedly caught in the trip defect, causing her to lose her balance and begin to fall forward.

Ms Valler allegedly stumbled with uncontrollable momentum down the stairs and struck the metal pole, causing personal injuries.

Due to the alleged injuries and ongoing pain Ms Valler is no longer able to work as a cleaner.

According to the statement of claim tendered to the court, she has been left with permanent impairment of the thoracic spine, sustained a traumatic brain injury, and has been rendered realistically unemployable having regard to her injuries, work history and age.

The court documents also said the defendant created an unreasonable risk of injury for a person in the position of the plaintiff, and she had no knowledge of the existence of the alleged defect prior to the accident.

There were many other claims made in the submission, and if successful, will result in Ms Valler being awarded $1,009,388.    

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