Random audit leads to worker’s high blood pressure injury

By Portner Press on July 9th, 2019
  1. Work Health & Safety Act
  2. Workers' Compensation

A worker who suffered a high blood pressure injury after being audited twice in one day has successfully claimed for workers’ compensation.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal found the employer, Moran Earthworks, liable for the worker’s aortic dissection injury when another group of auditors arrived to conduct a second unexpected audit just 15 minutes after the first one concluded.

The worker claimed he was concerned that something was identified at the first audit which he was not told about, but was being followed up in the second audit.

During the second inspection, the worker said he was bombarded with questions and felt intimidated, which put him under a lot of stress.

Fifteen minutes after the inspectors left, the worker’s heart rate increased and he felt hot and sweated profusely. Five minutes later he developed what he thought was a severe headache. His vision became blurred and he felt dizzy.

Another worker then came over to see if he was ok. His mouth started drooping and he was unable to speak clearly. An ambulance was called and he attended hospital where he was diagnosed with a dissecting aortic aneurysm which required open-heart surgery.

When the worker made a workers’ compensation claim, the employer denied liability, arguing that his employment did not contribute to the injury because of the time which passed between the second audit and his symptoms, as well as the fact that the worker had a pre-existing condition of a severely degenerate aorta which was likely to split.

However, in the hearing, Deputy President Magistrate Stuart Cole found that a causative link between the second audit and the injury was probable.

“[I]f the second audit elevated his blood pressure leading to the dissection, then that event would satisfy both the test of the injury arising out of employment, and the alternative test of the injury arising in the course of employment and employment contributed to the injury,” Deputy President Magistrate Cole said.

“I find that the worker’s response to the second audit elevated his blood pressure, and that within a period of 15 to 20 minutes of that audit he was manifesting the signs and symptoms of aortic dissection, which was the subsequently diagnosed injury.”

Deputy President Magistrate Cole found that the worker’s injury arose out of his employment and that he was entitled to compensation under the South Australian Return to Work Act 2014.

Do you know the workers’ compensation laws that apply in your state?

Find out by reading chapter W1 Workers’ Compensation in the Health & Safety Handbook.

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