An injury occurring when a claimant fell while stepping out of a shower is covered under the Defense Base Act, according to the Benefits Review Board. The Board applied the zone of special danger doctrine to reach this decision.
The claimant was assigned to force protection duties in Israel. He lived in an apartment selected by and paid for by his employer, and he had to be available for assignment 24 hours a day. His work required him to wear heavy equipment, in a sandy environment, which caused him to become sweaty and dirty by the end of a shift. Yet, his employer required that the claimant maintain his personal appearance and hygiene. This required the claimant to shower every day at the end of his shift. The administrative law judge determined, and the Board affirmed, that ““the obligations or conditions of [claimant’s] employment create[d] the zone of special danger out of which the injury arose,” resulting in the claim being compensable under the zone of special danger doctrine. The zone of special danger doctrine provides that a DBA employee may be within the course of employment when injured, even if the injury did not occur within the space and time boundaries of work, if the “obligations or conditions of employment” create a “zone of special danger” out of which the injury arose. The Board rejected the employer’s argument that showering was an activity purely personal in nature, even though the claimant admitted he would shower daily regardless of any work responsibilities.
Ritzheimer v. Triple Canopy, Inc., BRB No. 15-0233 (2/23/16)
© 2018 Ira J. Rosenzweig