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Platform Step Height Was ‘Actual Risk’

The Court of Appeals affirms a commission decision that claimant’s knee injury arose out of his employment at appellant’s paper mill, based on evidence of the unusual height of a step from a platform.

The deputy commissioner found that claimant’s injury arose out of his employment at the paper mill, given the unusual height of the platform from which claimant was stepping off was a risk peculiar to his employment and contributed to his knee injury. The full commission affirmed this rationale, specifically noting that the unusual height of the step caused claimant to step down off the platform in an awkward manner and injure his knee. Because a rational mind could come to this conclusion, we affirm the full commission’s decision.

We disagree with employer’s contention that our unpublished decision in Smith v. Rockingham  Va. Ass’n of Counties Group Self-Insurance, [VLW 011-7-066(UP)], supports reversal. The facts of Smith make it easily distinguishable.

Here, claimant said that if the step had not been as high, his leg would not have been as elevated – it caused his leg to be elevated and bent backwards when he descended the platform. The commission as fact finder found claimant’s testimony credible and found that the injury arose from his employment in light of the connection between the height of the step – 12 to 14 inches high –  and claimant’s injury.

Decision for claimant affirmed.

GP Big Island LLC v. Creasey (Petty) No. 0273-14-3, Nov. 18, 2014; Workers’ Comp. Comm’n; S. Vernon Priddy III for appellant; James B. Feinman for appellee. VLW 014-7-345(UP), 6 pp.

VLW 014-7-345

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