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Firefighter receives workers’ compensation for exercise injury

Many jobs have guidelines requiring that employees stay physically fit while they are working. Professional athletes need to stay in shape during the off-seasons. Construction workers need to stay strong enough to lift heavy materials. Police officers and firefighters in Ohio need to remain in-shape, so they do not get injured while they are fighting crime or fighting fires.

However, if those individuals are injured while they are working to stay in shape, should they receive workers’ compensation? One court recently ruled yes.

While he was on active 24-hour duty, a firefighter was playing basketball with some of his coworkers. While he was playing, he injured his bicep, and the injury kept him out of work for nearly four months.

The first time he applied for worker’s compensation benefits, his claim was denied. The city argued that his injury was not the result of his employment or of services incidental to his employment.

Later, the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) overturned that ruling. They determined that because the “job demanded fitness activity while on active duty” that the man deserved benefits.

The judge ruled that the man “was being compensated by the City to stand ready at the fire station at the time of his injury.” In addition, the firefighters were encouraged to participate in physical activities while they were on duty.

The judge concluded that if the city was willing to provide workers’ compensation to a firefighter who was injured fighting a fire, that they should also provide compensation to a firefighter who was working to stay in shape in order to avoid getting hurt while fighting a fire.

Source: State Bar of Wisconsin, “On-duty firefighter shooting hoops entitled to worker’s compensation,” 22 March 2011, Joe Forward

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