Camp assault up for compensation claim

A man who was assaulted in his bed at a Moranbah workers camp has won the right to make a compensation claim against his employer.

The Industrial Court of Queensland last week quashed an appeal by MAC Moranbah Village operator Civeo against a compensation claim made by appliance technician Shane Cumbers.

Cumbers sustained soft tissue injuries when he was attacked by a man in his donga room at the village on 15 December 2010.

Cumbers made the claim on the basis that the injuries occurred during the course of his employment with Civeo, maintaining kitchen and laundry equipment at the camp, in supplied accommodation facilities.

The court held that because Cumbers lived 300km from the camp “the provision of free food and lodging was obviously an inducement and encouragement for him to stay at the camp where the injury was sustained”.

“Mr Cumbers by sleeping in his donga was doing the very thing the appellant had encouraged him to do, when the injury occurred.”

Cumbers had been prevented from making a compensation claim by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission after appeal by Civeo, however President Martin last week maintained there were no fewer than 10 errors made by the Deputy President in that hearing, including the finding that employment had not been a significant contributing factor in Cumbers’ injuries.

It was addressed in court that Cumbers recognised his assailant as a person who had been socialising with Cumbers and a group of people earlier that day, and that the group was involved in drinking and smoking marijuana.

Cumbers had locked his door that night, however the attacker had obtained a master key, which he used to gain entry to Cumbers’ room and attack him while sleeping.

President Martin said the key was taken as a result of “the actions of a person or persons acting in concert to take the key without the supervisor’s permission”.

“This submission, with respect, is concerned with blame or fault whereas the Act directs attention to identifying whether the injury arose out of employment and whether the employment was a significant contributing factor,” he said.

“There was a connection between the system employed by Civeo for security of the master key and the injury.

“The evidence compels a conclusion that the system used was insufficiently secure. Access to Mr Cumbers’ room was facilitated, at least in part, by another employee of Civeo.”

President Martin said there was a practical requirement for Cumbers to sleep in the camp, and that he was assaulted while doing something (sleeping) which Civeo must be taken to have intended that he do while in the camp.

“Had he not been there he would not have been assaulted. The Deputy President erred in holding that employment was not a significant contributing factor to the injury.”