HOME OFFICE INJURY: WORKER'S $12K MATTRESS VICTORY

A worker whose back injury worsened due to a sedentary home office setup during the pandemic has won the right for his employer to provide him with a $12,000 mattress.

Employed by Southern Cross University, the worker requested workers' compensation, alleging that his back pain intensified because he had to sit constantly while working from home. His work on campus required him to stand and walk around, relieving the static load on his back.

He also reported experiencing neck and shoulder pain, as well as migraines due to the poor ergonomics of his home setup. Additionally, his weight gain and chronic fatigue symptoms, developed while working with a previous employer, were aggravated.

The employer initially accepted liability for his condition, but ceased paying him compensation in October 2021 after determining that any exacerbation had resolved.

After challenging the decision, the worker received various home modifications and medical treatments, including a new king-sized mattress. However, he appealed to receive a higher-quality mattress and sought clarification regarding the causal relationship between his work injury and certain medical conditions.

The appeals authority upheld the worker's right to the better mattress but dismissed other appeals, maintaining the original time limit on other treatments whilst acknowledging the causal connection between his work injury and health issues.

Source: Hallmann v Southern Cross University [2023] NSWPICPD 57 (18 September 2023)

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