VSSR Application to Factory/Workshop Clarified

VSSR Application to Factory/Workshop Clarified

Posted: April, 1999

State, ex rel. Parks v. Indus. Comm. (3/17/99), 85 Ohio St.3d 22.

Issue: Did the VSSR rules apply to an injury which occurred to a worker trimming a tree?

Background: Parks was injured when he received an electrical shock from a powerline while trimming a storm-damaged tree. His claim was allowed.

He applied for a VSSR, alleging that the city had not complied with Ohio Administrative Code 4121:1-5-23(E)(1) and (2). These rules require employers in the “electric utility and clearance tree trimming industries” to provide insulated gloves or other protective measures to employees trimming trees around electric power lines.

The Commission denied his VSSR application because the injury occurred outdoors, not in a workshop or factory. Parks filed a mandamus which the Court of Appeals denied.

Decision: Supreme Court reverses. The Court found that the utility tree trimming rules apply to Park’s outdoor injury.

The issue involves statutory construction. The specific requirements of 4121:1-54-23(E)(1) and (2) prevail as an exception to the general terms of the workshop and factory code.

The “electric utility and clearance tree trimming industries” provisions regulate Park’s activity. This job cannot be performed indoors. To impose the general “workshop or factory” limitation would eliminate the application of this provision. An employer cannot reasonably expect an exemption from this type of rule.

The Court finds that this decision does not conflict with State, ex rel. Burma Farms, Inc. v. Indus. Comm. (1994), 69 Ohio St.3d 111 or State, ex rel. Waugh v. Indus. Comm. (1997), 77 Ohio St.3d 453 because those cases held that where specific safety requirements regulate activities that can be performed indoors or outdoors, the Ohio Administrative Code 4121:1-5-01(A) workshops and factory restriction limits an employer’s reasonable expectation of liability for VSSR to indoors.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.