Compo win: in-house gym injury was work-related

Compo win:  in-house gym injury was work-related

By Rachel O'Connor on 10 October 2018

An Oracle employee who injured his left shoulder while using on-site gym facilities has won his bid for compensation after a tribunal ruled the injury was work-related.

Facts and background


Stuart Rofe was employed by Oracle. During the recruitment process he said the company's on-site gym was portrayed as an ‘inducement to come and work at Oracle’.

The gym was located in the building and could used by employers with an Oracle access card, after they had completed an induction course.

On the day of the incident, in 2016, Mr Rofe went to the gym in the morning when he arrived at work. He was doing dumbbell lateral raises with 9kg weights when he felt a ‘sudden sharp pain’ in the left arm.

He underwent six weeks of physiotherapy with resultant left shoulder pain. An MRI scan revealed a ‘full thickness supraspinatus tear’ which is the tendon that connects the upper back to the shoulder. He underwent surgery as a result.

Medical professionals agreed that while he may have had some aggravation prior to the incident as a result of baseball, the left shoulder was asymptomatic.

Attached to Mr Rofe's employment agreement was a membership application document with a code of conduct for the gym. It established that termination of employment with Oracle was immediate termination of membership of the Wellness Centre.

The law


Under s4 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987, injury means personal injury arising out of or in the course of employment. In order to be provided compensation, a worker must prove that the employment concerned was a ‘substantial contributing factor’. The commission will look at the criteria in s9A(2) including things such as the time and place of the injury, and the nature of the work performed, to determine causation.

Arguments


Mr Rofe argued that he was provided with the gym facilities as part of his contractual benefits under his contract of employment. He argued that the encouragement and authorisation by the employer of the use of the gym was clear: it provided the gym, allowed access and provided an induction course.

Oracle argued that the use of the gym was not referred to in the ‘employment agreement’. It rejected the proposition that the discussions it had with Mr Rofe about the gym, prior to employment, were an inducement. It argued that the emails sent to Mr Rofe about the benefits of classes was ‘informative’ rather than ‘encouragement’. The employer argued that it did not occur at the work premises as Mr Rofe was not actually performing paid work.

Consideration


The commission found that the provision of use of gym facilities was a separate oral term and not inconsistent with the terms included in the employment agreement. It was held that there was clear authorisation and encouragement of the gym and so this fell within the scope of Mr Rofe’s employment.

Although the time of the incident was outside Mr Rofe’s working hours, the commission found that the fact it authorised and encouraged the use of the gym facilities was enough to show a causal link. The use of the gym was a means to which the commission said Oracle enticed Mr Rofe.

It was found that the facts of the case clearly satisfied the concept of employment being a ‘substantial’ contributing factor.

Decision


The commission found that the injury fell within the meaning of s4 and 9A of the Workers Compensation Act 1987.

Read the judgment


Rofe v Oracle Corporation Australia Ltd 


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