It’s the kind of incident that only the most astute risk manager may envision – a worker breaking a tooth on a hard-boiled sweet, and then making a claim for compo.
In March last year former CSIRO employee Jack Hoffman, who was employed in the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex division of the national scientific research body, bit into a CSIRO-supplied lolly and broke a tooth. The incident led to a ban on consuming sweets at meetings and training sessions, and Hoffman said he was the victim of a fierce backlash from colleagues. Following the incident, Hoffman lodged a compensation claim for psychological injuries incurred at work.
In his claim Hoffman alleged his work colleagues blamed him for the ban on sweets, and said one co-worker told him he had ‘f**ked it up for everyone at CDSCC’.
A separate incident involving misuse of a company car in July last year culminated in disciplinary action and the resignation of Hoffman, and ended in a failed wrongful dismissal claim. The worker is however pursuing his claim over the broken tooth with Comcare, and according to the Canberra Times, has produced medical evidence of "adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features". Hoffman claims it was the bullying and harassment which followed the so-called lollygate incident which led to his psychological injury.
So far Comcare has rejected his claim, ruling that his experience at the communications complex did not contribute sufficiently to his psychological condition to justify a workers' compensation payout – Hoffman is now seeking a reconsideration of the decision.