An ‘aggravating’ decision – ‘nothing event’ causes aggravation to previous work related injury

27 October 2015 Topics: Insurance, Workers’ compensation, Self-insurance

Pope v Simon Blackwood (Workers’ Compensation Regulator) [2015] QIRC 170 [click here to access case]

In this case, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has found that ‘a nothing event’ was able to cause an aggravation to a previous work related neck injury, thereby allowing the worker to receive further compensation to cover the period of the aggravation.

Mr Pope was employed as a store person. He claims to have sustained an injury to his neck as a result of an incident on 21 November 2014 when using a Reach forklift.

Importantly, Mr Pope lodged three workers’ compensation applications in 2014, for incidents sustained in February, June and November. In all incidents he claims to have sustained neck injuries.

The November incident occurred when the forklift came to a sudden stop causing Mr Pope to grab a handle to prevent him falling out of the forklift. He says he aggravated the previous neck injuries in the November incident.

Curiously, Mr Pope referred to the November incident as ‘a nothing event’ and described the forces involved as ‘very modest indeed’. However, Mr Pope claimed the November incident caused an aggravation of underlying pathology as the neck injury from the previous incidents had not fully healed.

Mr Pope’s treating doctor, Dr Gatehouse, was the only doctor to give oral evidence. Dr Gatehouse acknowledged that:

  1. Mr Pope had received no further medical treatment, apart from physiotherapy, after 8 October 2014; and
  2. when Dr Gatehouse reviewed Mr Pope on 11 November 2014 (10 days before the incident) his symptoms seemed to have settled down and no further treatment was recommended.

Despite this, Dr Gatehouse said he did not know whether the June injury had resolved prior to the November incident, although it appeared the symptoms had ceased.

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission agreed that the November incident caused an aggravation of the previous neck injuries, which were otherwise becoming symptom free. Accordingly, Mr Pope was entitled to receive compensation for the period of the aggravation.

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