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  • December 8, 2017

Day Off Turns Into a Nightmare

Day Off Turns Into a Nightmare

RAMSAY HEALTH CARE AUSTRALIA PTY LTD VS WYATT – [2017] WADC 145

On 8 April 2014 (on a rostered day off), Ms Wyatt attended the hospital where she worked to complete a form that had been requested of her previously. It is accepted that her attendance did not relate to the nursing duties for which she was employed. As she went to sit on a chair proximate to the computer she intended to use, she missed the chair, landed heavily on her buttocks on the floor and suffered injury. Thereafter, Ms Wyatt commenced a workers’ compensation claim for weekly payments of compensation and statutory expenses.

The hospital denied liability and disputed the fact of the injury arose out of or in the course of her employment with it.

On 29 November 2016, an arbitrator at WorkCover found in favour of Ms Wyatt and ordered that the hospital pay her weekly payments of compensation for total incapacity for the period from 8 April 2014 to 12 November 2014 and from 12 to 22 January 2015.

The hospital appealed the arbitrator’s decision, pursuant to section 247(1) of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act. The issues for the appeal were:

  • whether the factual material placed before the arbitrator compelled a finding that the Ms Wyatt’s injury was in fact suffered in the course of her employment, notwithstanding that she had not been rostered to work on that day and had attended her place of work of her own volition; or
  • whether Ms Wyatt’s attendance at the hospital on that day was reasonably required, expected or authorised in order to carry out her actual duties or necessarily incidental thereto, that is to say, in the context of what Ms Wyatt was employed to do.

The court observed that after “… having reviewed the arbitrator’s findings and reasons, I am satisfied that in making the finding that the arbitrator did not apply the correct test when determining if the respondent’s injury occurred in the course of her employment…”.

The judge found that he was “…. satisfied that the arbitrator was in error in focusing on what the respondent (Ms Wyatt) was doing at the time, rather than whether the appellant (the hospital) had induced or encouraged the respondent to engage in that activity at the time and the place when she suffered the injury …” and dismissed Ms Wyatt’s appeal.

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