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10.3 Injury


Note: By their very nature, injuries will in almost all cases not attract the changes that were made by the SRCOLA 2007, as any injuries sustained on/after 1 July 2004 will be covered under the MRCA. This section therefore deals with the definition of injury as it existed prior to 13 April 2007 under s4.

Section 4 of the SRCA defines this term, but only for the purposes of settling terminology used within the Act, i.e. S4 establishes that the word 'injury' as used throughout the Act may also mean 'disease' or 'aggravation'. Both Disease and Aggravation are then separately defined by S4 (see the discussion on each immediately below, in this section).

This definition at S4 also positively excludes anything arising out of 'reasonable disciplinary action', see discussion at 26.

Both the 1971 Act at S5 and the 1930 Act at S4 use an almost identical scheme and definitions of injury though these Acts do not contain the 'disciplinary action' exclusion.

What then, is an injury that is neither a disease nor an aggravation?

Section 4 states such an injury to be:

...a physical or mental injury arising out of, or in the course of, the employees employment...

This definition obviously lays out the required nexus with employment but is otherwise a rather circular description. Nevertheless, given the important practical distinction between 'injury' and 'disease' for acceptance of liability Delegates should have a clear understanding of what injury means.

Thus, the most succinct description of injury may be (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary) – 'an act that damages or hurts'. It also means the damage or hurt so inflicted. The essential feature is that an injury is the result of an 'act' or event rather than from gradual attrition such as wearing of a joint or infection with a viral illness. This fits well with the practical usage for RCG in which a simple injury (as opposed to disease) generally means a medical condition of sudden onset and usually with a single traumatic origin, i.e. effects such as a wound, a sprain, a burn or a broken bone etc.

Case law has also established that some organic disorders, although originating as diseases, manifest themselves as a singular medical 'event' and this event should be regarded as an injury (i.e. as opposed to a disease). For instance a brain haemorrhage (stroke) has its origins in a history of elevated blood pressure and other disease processes, but the resultant sudden bursting of a cerebral blood vessel is a discrete event and is said to have the character of an injury.

The implications of this type of 'injury' are also dealt with at 16.1.3.