Robert Ahwong is suing his former employer. Picture: Tony Martin
Robert Ahwong is suing his former employer. Picture: Tony Martin

Man sues former employer for $2m over fall

A SLADE Point man is suing his former employer for $2 million after a fall at work shattered his hopes of getting a new job and has stopped him from being able to pick up his grandchildren.

Robert Ahwong said his life had changed forever in a split second on April 26, 2017. The 53 year old was doing track repair work at the Goonyella rail corridor after Cyclone Debbie.

While walking trackside in the darkness, with only a headlamp to light his way, his right foot slipped out from underneath him. As a result, his full body weight fell forward.

HIS left elbow and forearm landed directly onto rail ballast, jarring his shoulder.

Mr Ahwong has filed a lawsuit against rail freight operator, Aurizon, and Queensland Complete Contracting Services for damages over claims he suffered physical and psychiatric injury from the fall.

Robert Ahwong injured his shoulder. Picture: Tony Martin
Robert Ahwong injured his shoulder. Picture: Tony Martin

 

Documents, filed this year in Queensland Supreme Court, state another employee had recently sprayed the area where Mr Ahwong was walking with concrete.

It is alleged Aurizon breached its duty of care by failing to identify the risk the sprayed concrete posed.

Mr Ahwong told the Daily Mercury he now suffers chronic pain in his shoulder, limiting the use of one arm.

The simple act of being able to pick up his grandchildren was something he had taken for granted and would give anything to be able to do again.

"Before the injury, I was happy to go to work. I was fit, I was going out, playing sports with the grandkids and going to golf," he said.

"Now I take painkillers just to go to sleep. I sit mainly on the chair watching TV."

Aurizon was contacted for comment, but declined because the matter was subject to legal proceedings.

After two years enduring surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, Mr Ahwong said his employer told him he could not return to work if he could no longer drive.

"I've applied for heaps of jobs but who's going to take a bloke that is on painkillers 24/7 virtually?" Mr Ahwong said.

"I think I'd be a liability, if anything."

When he is not in debilitating pain, the grandfather of five tries to help his wife out with household chores.

"If I sit too long in the wrong spot without a pillow or something propping it up, the pain is pretty chronic," the Slade Point resident said.

His lawyer Rene Flores, from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said his client would allege the accident had been completely avoidable.

 

Rene Flores from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.
Rene Flores from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

"If the shotcrete had been properly applied and contained by the defendant, avoiding overspray onto the concrete pad causing it to become slippery, the accident would not have occurred," he said.

Mr Flores said his client's former employers owed him a duty of care as he now had to live with the consequences of significant physical and psychological injury.

"For a man who was previously healthy and active, this accident has been totally devastating," he said.

Mr Ahwong is suing for $2 million in damages to cover economic loss, ongoing care and treatment expenses he has incurred.

A date for the hearing has not been set.