|IN RE: HERMAN ARNOTT||)||DOCKET NO. 24,755|
|Claim No. F-273153||)||ORDER DENYING APPEAL|
Appeal filed by the employer, Simpson Timber Company, on July 12, 1965, from an order of the supervisor of industrial insurance dated May 14, 1965, allowing the claim of the above-named claimant for an injury to his right hand on February 8, 1965.
The record of the department of labor and industries reveals that the claimant was an employee of Simpson Timber Company at McCleary, Washington, on February 8, 1965. On that date he injured his right hand at 12:25 p.m., when his hand slipped while he was sawing some wood on a table saw, and he cut the index and third fingers of the hand on the saw-blade. Further facts surrounding this injury, on the basis of which the employer challenges allowance for this claim, are clearly stated in a letter from the employer's safety supervisor to the department, as follows:
"We request that this claim be denied as it did not happen in the course of his employment.
This employee asked his supervisor for some old planks as he wanted to use them for wood at home. The supervisor told him he could have the old planking, but he would have to remove them from the plant on his own time. During his regular scheduled lunch period 12:00 noon to 12:30 on February 8, 1965, after eating his lunch, he decided to cut some of the planking on the table saw to make it easier to haul home.
At approximately 12:25 PM (5 minutes before time to resume work) he reached near the saw and his finger came in contact with the blade, cutting his index and third finger.
This claim should not be considered a work injury under the Act; therefore, we request that it be denied."
It is true that, prior to 1961, it had been held in D'Amico v. Conguista, 24 Wn. 2d 67, and Tipsword v. Department of Labor and Industries, 52 Wn. 2d 79, as well as in other cases, that a workman could not receive benefits of the industrial insurance and medical aid acts for an injury sustained during his lunch period.
Such holdings were based on more than one ground, i.e., that a  workman was not in the course of his employment during such period, that he was not engaged in duties required by his employment contract or in furtherance of his employer's business during said period, and that industrial insurance premiums on his work-hours were not paid for said period.
However, by Chapter 107, Laws of 1961, the legislature extended the coverage of the act to certain accidents occurring on the employer's premises which had theretofore been held to be out- side the course of employment. (See Miller v. St. Regis Paper Company, 60 Wn. 2d 484.) Section 3 of Chapter 107 enacted a definition of the phrase "acting in the course of employment," and Sections 1 and 2 of the Chapter specifically extended the coverage of the industrial insurance and medical aid acts to workmen's lunch periods under certain conditions. Sections 1 and 2 were identical in language and were new sections to be added to chapters 51.32 RCW (the compensation chapter) and 51.36 RCW (the medical aid chapter), respectively; they are now codified as RCW 51.32.015 and RCW 51.36.040. These enactments are controlling in the instant case and provide, insofar as here pertinent, as follows:
"The benefits of Title 51 R.C.W. shall be provided to each workman receiving an injury, as defined therein, during the course of his employment and also during his lunch period as established by the employer while on the jobsite. The jobsite shall consist of the premises as are occupied, used or contracted for by the employer for the business or work process in which the employer is then engaged...." (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, since the enactment of Chapter 107, Laws of 1961, the benefits of the industrial insurance and medical aid acts extend to injuries incurred by workmen in two situations, i.e., during the "course of employment" as defined by Section 3, and in addition, during their regular lunch periods while on the employer's premises regardless of whether they are then in the "course of employment."
The contention of the employer here appears to be that lunch period injuries on the premises are covered only if the workmen's activity at the time of injury is within the course of his employment. This contention is clearly erroneous, in view of the statute. If an employee, during his lunch period, is acting within the course of his employment, i.e., furthering his employer's business or doing something at the employer's specific direction, then he is covered under the act in view of the very definition of "course of employment" in Section 3 of the 1961 legislation. If that was all that was intended, there would have been no need for Sections 1 and 2 of the 1961 law. Clearly, however, those sections were intended to, and did, extend the coverage of Title 51 to injuries sustained during the lunch period while on the employer's premises, in addition to injuries occurring in the course of employment. Therefore, what the workman happened to be doing is wholly immaterial in lunch period injuries as long as he is on the employer's premises; the statute makes no exclusion from coverage for cases where the workman's immediate activity at the time of injury may  have been for his own accommodation or enjoyment, presumably on the theory that he is still subject to the hazards of his occu pational environment.
In this case, it is uncontroverted that the claimant's injury occurred during his regular lunch period and while he was on the employer's premises. This is all that is required for allowance of the claim, under the clear and plain terms of Sections 1 and 2, Chapter 107, Laws of 1961 (now RCW 51.32.015 and RCW 51.36.040).
This appeal raises solely an issue of law, and it is clear that the department's order of May 14, 1965, properly and lawfully decided that issue in allowing this claim. Therefore, pursuant to RCW 51.52.080, the department's order should be confirmed and this appeal denied.
Now, therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that the order of the supervisor of industrial insurance dated May 14, 1965, allowing this claim for claimant's right hand injury of February 8, 1965, be, and the same is hereby, confirmed; and the above-numbered appeal from said order filed herein by the employer, Simpson Timber Company, on July 12, 1965, be, and the same is hereby, denied.
Dated this 19th day of August, 1965
BOARD OF INDUSTRIAL INSURANCE APPEALS
J. HARRIS LYNCHChairperson
R. M. GILMORE.Member