Comp covers worker's injuries while using machine for personal project
Case name: Griffith v. Trigon Holdings, Inc., 28 PAWCLR 4 (Pa. W.C.A.B. 2013).
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the workers' compensation judge's decision awarding benefits to a worker for his injury to the left thumb while using a machine at work for a personal task.
What it means: In Pennsylvania, a worker's inconsequential or innocent departure in the course of employment will not prevent him from receiving benefits.
Summary: The board affirmed the WCJ's decision awarding benefits to a worker alleging an injury to the left thumb while using a machine at work for a personal task. The WCJ found the defendant had a long-standing practice of allowing workers to perform personal tasks on its machines, if those tasks did not interfere with their regular job duties. The worker had a few minutes to spare during his shift so he went to the tool and die department to polish a bolt for his child's go-cart. A piece of cloth got caught and pulled his thumb, causing serious injury to his thumb.
The employer argued that the worker was not in the course and scope of his employment at the time of his injury because he was performing personal work on company time. Rejecting this argument, the board agreed with the WCJ that the worker's use of machinery for personal work was an inconsequential or innocent departure in the course of employment. It appeared to be common practice for workers to use machinery at work for personal work. Also, he had only intended to step away for five minutes. The board was unable to determine a departure sufficient to establish a break in the course of employment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 10, 2013
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