A Woolworths staffer has been awarded $17k after being savagely attacked by a rogue magpie.
A Woolworths staffer has been awarded $17k after being savagely attacked by a rogue magpie.

Woolies worker wins $17k bird attack payout

A WOMAN whose right eye was "severely injured" in a savage bird attack has been awarded almost $17,000 in lost wages.

Anita Smith, a Woolworths shop assistant from Albion Park, NSW was on her way to work on May 14 last year when the attack occurred.

Ms Smith was about to enter Kiama Village Shopping Centre, which housed a Woolworths store inside, when the bird, a native peewee, swooped.

In July, Ms Smith underwent surgery which was described in her compensation claim as an "inturned central part of the right eye flap".

According to Fairfax, 10 people had required medical assistance for injuries caused by the same bird during the period.

Last month the Workers Compensation Commission ordered Woolworths to pay Ms Smith almost $17,000 in lost wages as well as covering her medical and rehabilitation bills.

The payment was calculated based on Ms Smith's 25 weeks of reduced work as a result of her injuries, however, counsel for the supermarket giant had unsuccessfully tried to claim that Ms Smith was "not performing any work" at the time of the attack.

Court documents revealed a Woolworths store manager had also attempted to deny responsibility for the injury by placing the blame on centre management.

"Centre Management had previously been informed regarding a number of bird attacks and choose to do nothing about this until this and other serious incidents happened," the manager said.

According to official documents, the local council "had previously attempted to deter the peewee with the installation of two imitation owls. These efforts apparently were unsuccessful as the bird continued to swoop at and injure persons entering and leaving the Shopping Mall."

The commission's arbitrator, John Harris, ruled that Ms Smith's employment had been a "substantial" contributing factor in the injury, and said the claim form submitted by Ms Smith's store manager at the time "clearly established prior knowledge of bird attacks".

"It is extremely unlikely that Ms Smith would have been attacked by the peewee at that time, had she not been in the course of her employment with the respondent. Whilst it is possible that, at that time, Ms Smith may have been present at the Centre for personal reasons, such an inference is extremely unlikely," he said.

According to Fairfax, the bird was eventually shot on June 20 after the local council received a permit from National Parks and Wildlife.