Employee Injured While Aiding Person in Distress at Job Site Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

An employee who was injured while attempting to rescue a person in distress at his employer’s job site was acting within the course and scope of his employment and, therefore, entitled to workers’ compensation, the Commonwealth Court held in Pipeline Systems, Inc. v. WCAB (Pounds), __ A.3d __ (No. 1577 CD 2014, filed July 7, 2015). On July 29, 2010, Franklin Pounds was working for his employer, Pipeline Systems, Inc., installing pipes at a sanitation plant. A plant employee fell into a nearby concrete pit, prompting Pounds and his co-workers to rush to the scene. Pounds descended a ladder into the pit and discovered the plant employee was deceased. As Pounds climbed out of the pit he was overcome by methane gas and fell approximately 20 feet to the ground. Pounds sought workers’ compensation for his injuries, which Employer contested as not work-related. The WCJ granted Pounds’ claim petition, holding that he was within the course and scope of employment when he was injured. The WCAB affirmed.

A unanimous Commonwealth Court panel affirmed in an opinion authored by Senior Judge Colins. In holding that Pounds’ injuries were compensable, the Court applied Section 601(a)(10)(ii) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. §1031(a)(10)(ii), which provides benefits for an employee who, “while in the course and scope of employment, goes to the aid of a person and suffers injury” while “

[r]endering emergency care, first aid or rescue at the scene of an emergency.” The Court rejected Employer’s argument that Section 601(a)(10), like subsections (a)(1) through (a)(9), applies only to volunteer emergency personnel. The Court held that Section 601(a)(10) protects “employees who may render aid from being removed from the definition of ‘employe’ chiefly because rendering aid is not a part of the services they regularly perform for consideration from their employer.” Aiding another human being, the Court observed, is like any other temporary departure that does not constitute an abandonment of employment. In this case, Pounds was furthering his employer’s business when he heard the call for help and, accordingly, was within the course and scope of employment when he was injured.

By | 2017-05-19T22:51:27+00:00 July 30th, 2015|Categories: Workers' Compensation|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Employee Injured While Aiding Person in Distress at Job Site Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

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