Oftentimes, when a worker is injured on the job in Pennsylvania, he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, which help cover medical expenses, lost wages and other costs related to the injury. However, workers’ compensation cases aren’t always straight forward and sometimes appeals are necessary to decide whether a worker is entitled to benefits. This is especially true in cases where workers were injured performing a task outside of their regular job duties.
In an example of this, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board recently held that a worker was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits after he was injured on the job while performing a personal task. The case involved a worker who had a few minutes free during his work day so he decided to use a machine at the workplace to polish a bolt for his child’s go-cart. While doing so, a piece of clothing got caught in the machine and resulted in serious injuries to his thumb.
Following the incident, the worker applied for workers’ compensation benefits. However, the employer denied the claim, arguing that the worker was not in the course and scope of his employment when he was injured, rather he was performing a personal task on company time.
The claim ended up being approved by a workers’ compensation judge, and the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the decision. The facts surrounding the case were stressed in the decision, including the fact that the employer had a long-standing policy of allowing employees to perform personal tasks on company machines, so long as it didn’t interfere with regular job duties.
Essentially, the decision means that in Pennsylvania, if a worker inconsequentially or innocently departs from his job duties and is injured while doing so, it does not prevent him or her from receiving benefits.
Source: Risk & Insurance, “Comp covers worker’s injuries while using machine for personal project,” June 10, 2013