Bad Quality Furniture Leads to Accidents

Bad Quality Furniture Leads to Accidents

Article by director Robert Sambell in the Australian Hotels Association (WA) Hospitality Magazine

Bad Quality Furniture Leads to Accidents

A Perth women was awarded almost $220,000 compensation after a judge ruled her serious knee injury was caused by a faulty chair.

The women was supervising a student at Northam Senior High School in the town’s recreation centre. When she stood up the $35 “Martin Chair” purchases from Ikea, collapsed under her causing injury. The judgement was made in the Perth District Court that the Shire of Northam must pay her compensation claim.

The Shire had purchased 270 of the chairs, which are made of moulded plywood screwed into two identical u-shaped tubes, bolted together to create four legs. They were flat packed, and assembled with an Allen key after purchase. The Shire had previously received complaints about the same type of chair, and it was the twelfth to collapse in the recreation centre since they were purchased.

The judge ruled the Shire was aware of previous issues prior to this incident and should have suspected a problem. He also dismissed the argument that replacing the chairs would have been beyond the Shire’s financial capability and said the cost of doing so was “insignificant when one thinks of the harm that could have been caused”. He also ruled that the injuries would not have occurred had the Shire discharged its duty of care in removing or replacing the chairs, and its failure to do so caused the injuries.

The case came to the attention of Furniture Options managing director Robert Sambell, who says it’s a timely reminder for members to be sure they fit their venues with quality commercial furniture. Mr Sambell says he’s seen these incidents at hospitality venues in the past and many venue operators may not be aware that they could be liable for injuries that are caused by faulty, bad quality furniture. “Whether you’re fitting out a venue from the start or buying new furniture during a renovation – it’s of utmost importance that you put quality first” Mr Sambell said.

“The old adage is true – you get what you pay for. Next to one another, two pieces of furniture may look the same, but, poor construction can have serious consequences” Mr Sambell added. Some companies including Furniture Options, also offer insurance with purchases to ensure if an accident does occur the venue isn’t liable. “You may think you’re saving money buying cheaper furniture for a fit-out, but the long-term effects can be dire. You can face having to close a business all because of one law suit involving bad quality furniture. It’s just not worth the risk” Mr Sambell concluded.