On our blog, we have previously discussed cases where the dispute in a case is whether an injured worker was actually engaged in his or her employment duties at the time of the injury (what we call the “scope and course” of their work). As you may have noticed, these cases often depend on the exact facts involved, making it hard to discern a general rule. A case recently published from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania did nothing to change this status.
In Grill v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (U.S. Airways), the injured worker was at his job, and was on work time. The accident happened when Claimant was helping his coworkers move a locker he brought from home to replace a battered one the Employer had been using. No supervisor had authorized, or was even aware of, this action. While moving the locker, the injured worker suffered shaft fractures in his fourth and fifth metacarpals, which required surgical treatment by the Philadelphia Hand Center.
When the claim was denied by the workers’ comp insurance carrier, the injured worker filed a Claim Petition. After hearing the evidence, the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) denied the Claim Petition. Specifically, the WCJ found that the injured worker was not required by his job to move the locker and that he had not sought permission from his supervisor to move the locker. As such, “Claimant was not engaged in the course and scope of his employment when he was injured.”