Queensland childcare to pay worker $200k over Lego block injury

Most parents have felt the frustration of a Lego-littered floor, but one stray block has caused far more than a headache for a childcare centre which has been ordered to give one of its workers a hefty payout.

Queensland Childcare Service Pty Ltd must pay Chomba Annie Kabwe Nkamba $200,000 in damages after she injured herself standing on an untidied Lego block while setting up a playground five years ago.

Court documents show the centre’s lawyers argued the company was not at fault during a five-day civil trial at Ipswich District Court last year, but now Judge Horneman-Wren has told them they were indeed negligent.

In a judgment published on the Supreme Court Library Queensland website, Judge Horneman-Wren said generations of parents “have admonished their children to put away their building blocks lest someone stand on them”.

“That common and simple caution inherently recognises that a block on the ground may pose a risk to a person who steps upon it.”

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Judge Horneman-Wren said Ms Nkamba was setting up an activity yard at the Woodcrest Early Education Centre in 2017 when she stepped backwards and down from a storage shed onto artificial grass where the Lego block sat.

“Her ankle inverted. She fell. How the block came to be there is central to this case,” he said.

“Having stepped on the block and inverted her ankle, Mrs Nkamba immediately felt pain.”

According to the judgment, the fall damaged Ms Nkamba’s ligament in her right ankle.

It said to this day, she suffers from a physical residual impairment which has placed “limitations upon her work and daily living… (and) caused her to become depressed”.

The court found the childcare’s negligence caused the injury as it failed to make sure the block was packed away and did not fix an internal shed light.

“I am satisfied the defendant’s negligence in failing to ensure that the shed was properly packed away the previous day and particularly to ensure the block was safely stored and not left lying on the floor, was a necessary condition of her injury,” Judge Horneman-Wren said.

Judge Horneman-Wren ordered the centre to pay Ms Nkamba $197,000 for a range of damages, including general damages, past and future economic loss and loss of past and future superannuation.

Queensland Childcare Service Pty Ltd has been contacted for comment.

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