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An Arkansas iron worker who slipped and fell on ice before clocking in for the day is entitled to workers compensation benefits because he had already donned his personal protective equipment, the state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
Ronnie Nabors was employed as an iron worker in Blytheville, Arkansas for Continental Construction Co. Inc., according to court records.
On March 2, 2009, Mr. Nabors injured his lower back when he slipped and fell on ice while walking from the main gate of a construction site to the work trailer where he would clock in for the day, records show.
He filed a workers comp claim with the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission, according to records. After a hearing, an administrative law judge decided that Mr. Nabors' injury was compensable and awarded him benefits.
Continental Construction appealed, arguing that Mr. Nabors wasn't performing employment services when he was injured, and that the “going-and-coming” rule barred him from receiving workers comp benefits.
The going and coming rule says Arkansas workers who are injured while commuting to or from their jobs typically are not entitled to workers comp. However, exceptions include employees driving company-owned vehicles to work, and those on “special missions,” such as when they take on unusual duties or aren't reporting to work at their typical location or time.
The Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Mr. Nabors was entitled to workers comp benefits because his actions before clocking in the morning of his injury were beneficial to Continental.
All Continental Construction workers were required to don personal protective equipment and swipe an access card in order to enter the gate, clock in and begin work for the day, records show.
Therefore, Mr. Nabors “had already engaged in employment activity by donning his personal protective equipment and swiping an access card to obtain entry to the job site,” the ruling states.
“The key,” according to the ruling, “is whether the activity benefited the employer. We hold that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission's finding that Nabors was injured while engaged in conduct that benefited Continental, making his injury compensable.”
The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed two state appellate court decisions Thursday that denied workers compensation benefits to two men who failed a drug test after a work accident.