Though a Pennsylvania worker was using the machine at work for personal use, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board nevertheless affirmed the worker had a valid claim to receive injury benefits. It was ruled that what is called an inconsequential or innocent departure from workplace routine should not be used as an excuse to deprive that worker of his workers’ compensation benefits.
It appears that the employer had long allowed workers to use the machines for personal type tasks so long as the tasks did not interfere with their ability to perform their job. In this particular instance, the worker had a few extra minutes before performing his next task so he used one of the tools to polish up a bolt used on a go-cart for his child. The worker then injured his thumb when a piece of cloth became entangled in the machinery.
Since what the worker was performing appeared to be an inconsequential task and since he was only stepping away from his job for a few minutes, it was viewed as an innocent departure from his workplace duties. Therefore the board ruled it would not be considered outside of the scope of his employment and disallowing from workers’ compensation benefits to be paid.
If you are injured at work, please speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before deciding upon what course of action to take. This scenario shows the many ways that workers’ compensation claims can arise. Individuals injured at the workplace should not automatically give up on a claim because employers feel it does not fit in as a workplace injury.
Source: Risk & Insurance, “Comp covers worker’s injuries while using machine for personal project,” June 10, 2013