QLD court dismisses worker caustic burn compo appeal

The Supreme Court of Queensland has dismissed a worker compensation appeal after his claim was reduced when footage emerged of the man performing karate with his damaged foot.

Paul Kennedy sought damages from Queensland Alumina Limited after he was injured in January 2012, when he came in contact with a caustic soda solution after his manager instructed him to replace a part in a pipe.

According to court reports Kennedy was not trained in the task at the time and had never performed the task previously.

The court heard Kennedy used a ratchet to turn a valve on the pipe from open to closed but scale build-up on the pipe and the size of the ratchet obscured his view of the label on the valve, which was already closed.

The blockage prevented the majority of the caustic soda from being released and when Kennedy undid three or four bolts, the caustic soda solution – used to dissolve aluminium-bearing minerals in bauxite – sprayed him “with force” and “melted” his boot.

In initial court hearings Kennedy appeared in the witness box wearing the only footwear he could wear – thongs – because of his extensive surgery and the multiple skin grafts to his badly burned left heel and ankle.

However footage then emerged of him performing martial arts, and using his left leg and foot without any apparent pain issues

The video showed Kennedy pivoting and flailing out with his left foot repeatedly.

The footage was used to reduce the compensation claim by half, to $191,000.

Kennedy appealed the decision, however his appeal has been dismissed on the grounds the original findings were appropriate, according to the Gladstone Observer.

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