The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has rejected an appeal of a Comcare decision where a worker was denied compensation for an injury she sustained while on a coffee break.
The information manager at ACT Health had left her workplace to visit a coffee shop adjacent to the organisation’s premises when she saw an elderly man trip over and fall to the ground, striking his head.
She went over to see if she could assist. When another bystander came to his aid and rang an ambulance, she returned to the office to see if anyone else could help.
She then spoke with the company director and they both went back to aid the injured man. The director used his mobile to call a former nurse and then said they needed to get a cloth and some water. The worker offered to fetch these items from the nearby coffee shop, which the director agreed to.
When the worker returned with a glass of water and cloth, she tripped on the uneven pavement, twisting her ankle. She did not seek medical treatment until more than two months after the incident when she developed Achilles tendonitis, which she claimed the fall attributed to.
In her claim for workers’ compensation, the worker argued that her injury had occurred during an ‘ordinary recess’ in the course of her employment and that she was directed to assist the fallen man. She further argued that her actions were in line with her employer’s core values which at the time were summarised as ‘care, excellence, collaboration and integrity’.
However, AAT Senior Member Linda Kirk rejected the claim, saying the injury had “no connection with the performance of the duties [the worker] might be expected to perform as [an employee] of the agency”.
She further added that while integrity and respect were part of the organisation’s core values that the worker was expected to demonstrate in her employment, it couldn’t be said that demonstrating these values outside of the workplace were related to or within the scope of her employment with the agency.
“[The worker’s] duties did not extend to the giving of medical first aid or assistance to any person within or outside the workplace,” Senior Member Kirk said.
“The decision made by [the worker] to go to the aid of the injured man was made in her private capacity as a member of the public and was unrelated to her work duties.
“As the Tribunal has found there is no relationship between [the worker’s] ‘ailment’ and her ’employment’ there is no need for it to consider the question of the contribution of the employment to the ailment.”
Senior Member Kirk found that the employer was not liable to pay the worker compensation and dismissed the case.