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Compensable Injury Following Bird Attack

A Woolworth’s employee who suffered an eye injury after having been attacked by a bird outside of the workplace has had a workers compensation claim accepted on the basis that it was her employment that had brought her to be at the location at which the attack occurred. On this basis, it was deemed that the injury was work related.

In mid-2017, the employee was walking towards the shopping centre in which she worked. Prior to reaching the entrance to the centre, she was attacked by a Peewee which resulted in an injury to her right eye. As a result of the bird attack, the employee required surgery to repair damage caused to her eye.

The employee returned to work on a part-time basis in July 2017 prior to resuming full-time work in November 2017.

The employee lodged a workers compensation claim for payment of her medical expenses under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW). Her employer, Woolworths, denied liability for the claim, arguing that there had been no connection with her employment on the basis that:

- it was the shopping centre (in which the workplace was located) which were to blame for the injury - The employer maintained that centre management had failed to take any action despite having been notified of similar bird attacks prior to the employee being injured.

- the incident had not occurred ‘in the course of employment’ because the employee had not been on the actual premises when the injury occurred.

- the employee had not been performing work duties at the time and that the injury had not occurred within her working hours.

Despite the employer having presented the above arguments, it was determined that the employee had been injured while undertaking an activity that was incidental to her employment, as she had been in the process of entering the work premises at the time. As such, WorkCover held that her employment had been a substantial contributing factor to the injury.

It was determined that compensation was payable to the employee to cover both the period of absence taken from work to enable her to have the necessary treatment, as well as the period during which the employee was only able to work on a part time basis. Compensation was also awarded to cover her medical expenses.

 

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