Past postings in this blog have discussed employees' entitlement to
compensation when they are injured on the job or injured while acting
in the capacity of their employment. In the majority of situations, this
is a requirement to receive benefits. However, a recent ruling by a Pennsylvania
Workers' Compensation Appeal Board goes to show that this is not always the case.
The case arose when an employee filed forworkers' compensation benefits after injuring his left thumb while operating machinery at work. At first
this sounds like a standard workers' compensation case, but there's
a catch. The man was using the machine for personal and not work-related
reasons when he injured himself. However, a workers' compensation
judge determined that the injured worker was still entitled to his workers'
While the man was working his regular shift, he had a few minutes to spare
so he decided to use a machine in the tool and die department to polish
a bolt for one of his child's toys. While polishing the bolt, a piece
of cloth became caught and pulled his thumb into the machine causing serious
injury. The man's employer argued that he was working outside the
scope and course of his employment and therefore should not be entitled
to the recovery of compensation for his injuries.
In response to the employer's argument the workers' compensation
judge and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board both agreed that
the polishing of the bolt was an insignificant and inconsequential departure
from his job that did not interfere with his ability to accomplish his
job responsibilities in a timely manner. In addition, they determined
that the employer had consistently allowed these types of minor uses of
machinery for personal reasons in the past.
When an employee is injured on the job, they may just assume for any number
of reasons that they may not be entitled to benefits and therefore do
not seek a workers' compensation settlement. This case proves that
this may not be the case and it is therefore a good idea to seek out the
assistance and counsel of a workers' compensation attorney who can
help the injured worker determine if they should seek compensation.
Source: Risk & Insurance, "Comp covers worker's injuries while using machine for personal project," June 10, 2013