Operator fails to prove compensability of injury from stepping on shoelace
Case name: Wade v. General Dynamics, 21 ILWCLB 1 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2012).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission denied benefits to an operator for an injury sustained while moving between workstations.
What it means: In Illinois, a worker's back injury is not compensable if it was the result of a risk personal to the worker rather than incidental to her employment.
Summary: An operator was assigned to perform the task of "reverse torque," which required her to examine parts in one room and carry them to another room that contained a reverse torque machine. The operator turned to leave one room when she stepped on her shoelace. She lost her balance and twisted back to grab a table to keep from falling. She felt pain in her lower back and buttocks. She was diagnosed with a strain or sprain of the right lumbosacral spine with spasms in the right hip joint and pain in the knee and underwent surgery. Finding the operator lacked credibility, the arbitrator concluded that there was no accident and denied benefits. The commission disagreed with the credibility determination but agreed with the outcome of the case.
The evidence demonstrated that the accident was caused by the operator stepping on her shoelace, which resulted in a torquing injury to her back. There was not sufficient evidence that she was forced to work at a pace that would make her particularly susceptible to stepping on her shoelace. The commission determined that the operator was not placed at a greater risk of injury from stepping on her shoelace than a member of the general public. Therefore, the injury did not arise out of and in the course of her employment.
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May 28, 2013
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