In its first decision of 2016, the Industrial Court of
Queensland ruled in Simon Blackwood (Worker's Compensation
Regulator) v Civeo Pty Ltd and Anor  ICQ 001 that an
assualt to a sleeping worker was compensable under the
Worker's Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003
(Qld) on the basis he "was doing the very thing the
company had encouraged him to do". It is timely reminder
to those Councils with large geographical boundaries and in remote
regions who accomodate workers particularly in camp arragements
while undertaking their jobs.
In the course of his employment, Mr Cumbers was required to
travel between five campsites owned by his employer to service each
site's commercial appliances. During these services Mr Cumbers
took up his employer's offer of onsite accommodation. One
evening after the end of the working day, Mr Cumbers joined a group
of friends, consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana, and eventually
retired to his room. While he was sleeping, he was assaulted by an
intruder who entered his room using a master key.
The Court was required to hear an appeal from the decision of
the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission that Mr Cumbers was
not entitled to workers' compensation for psychiatric injury
suffered as a result. The live issues in dispute were whether there
was a sufficient nexus between the injury and employment, namely
whether the injuries 'arose out of, or in the course of
employment' and whether 'employment was a 'significant
Injury 'arose out of, or in the course of,
The Court affirmed the reasoning of the QIRC that the injury
arose out of, or in the course of, employment. The injury occurred
by reference to a place, being the onsite-site accommodation.
Although Mr Cumbers was not required to take up the accommodation,
the offer of accommodation was such as to constitute an inducement
to be at the 'place', that is the site in question in which
the injury took place.
Employment was 'a significant contributing
Although the immediate cause of the injury was due to the
assault, rather than the overt negligence of the employer directly
causing injury, the Court nonetheless noted this requirement
requires consideration of more practical and indirect causes.
Importantly, the Court noted with approval that the exigencies of
employment must contribute in some significant way to the
occurrence of the injury.
In making such finding, the court relied upon the fact that
there was a practical requirement Mr Cumber's sleep in the
camp, he was assaulted while doing something which his employer
would have expected him to do (sleeping), and the employer had
imposed policies for employee conduct in the camp designed to
create a safe space for greater work performance.
[It should be noted following the Workers' Compensation
Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (Qld)
the threshold for psychiatric injuries has been significantly
modified in requiring employment be a 'major significant
This case confirms the adoption of a broad interpretation by
Queensland courts, although such expanded scope will have
negligible significance to the everyday claims for compensation.
However those employers which provide for the accommodation of
employees as a necessity of their work ought to consider updating
or otherwise reviewing their policies. Where the accommodation is
specifically provided by the employing entity, safe and secure
systems should be in place to ensure the safety of workers.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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