A small, untidied piece of an internationally renowned educational toy has delivered a costly lesson for an Ipswich childcare centre.
Queensland Childcare Service Pty Ltd has been ordered to pay an employee almost $200,000 in damages for injuries she sustained as a result of standing on a solitary Lego block while setting up a playground for children in 2017.
Ipswich District Court Judge Sandy Horneman-Wren last week awarded childcare worker Chomba Annie Kabwe Nkamba damages for injuries stemming from rolling her ankle after stepping onto a Lego block.
Judge Horneman-Wren, in a 94-page decision delivered on Friday (16 Dec), opened his ruling with the conundrum faced by many parents ever since the first plastic Lego brick was manufactured in the Scandinavian country of Denmark almost 75 years ago.
“Generations of parents have admonished their children to put away their building blocks lest someone stand on them,” Judge Horneman-Wren said.
“That common and simple caution inherently recognises that a block on the ground may pose a risk to a person who steps upon it.
“On 29 August 2017, the risk posed by a block on the ground was realised by … Mrs Nkamba.
“In the course of setting up an activity yard at the defendant’s childcare centre at which she was employed she stepped backwards and down from a storage shed onto an area covered with artificial grass on which there was a small block. Her ankle inverted. She fell.
“How the block came to be there is central to this case.”
As a result of the fall, Mrs Nkamba suffered ligament damage to her right ankle.
The court was told that despite therapeutic treatment, Mrs Nkamba had received “only limited success” and “suffers from a residual impairment” as of the incident.
“Mrs Nkamba claims that her injuries were caused by the negligence of her employer,” he said.
The childcare centre denied Mrs Nkamba’s allegations that the accident and injuries were caused by its negligence.
Lawyers for the centre proposed a myriad reasons and arguments why the company was not liable during a five-day civil trial at the Ipswich District Court between 1-4 February and 19 April last year (2021).
However, Judge Horneman-Wren last week ruled in favour of Mrs Nkamba – awarding her $197,013.98 in damages.
“Mrs Nkamba was a person engaged in work within the facility who would in the performance of her duties be exposed to the identified risk of harm,” he said.
“It is appropriate for the scope of liability of the defendant to extend to the injury caused to her that injury is of kind which might readily be sustained in the event the risk of harm manifested itself.
“Mrs Nkamba’s injury was caused by the negligence of the defendant (Queensland Childcare Service Pty Ltd).”
Read the decision.