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9.1.12 Right or left finger, hand or arm impairment?
The question whether the impairment is of the right or left arm or hand is relevant as the Third Schedule provides for a higher rate of compensation for a loss of the dominant arm or hand, i.e. the right (left) arm or hand of a person who is right-handed (left-handed).
This higher rate is paid because the Third Schedule prescribes a higher rate for right side impairments, but S12(2) reverses this where the left arm and hand is habitually used for work instead of the right arm and hand. Section 12(2) states:
12(2) Where an employee habitually used his left hand and arm to perform work usually performed by an employee with his right hand and arm, the compensation payable to the first mentioned employee under this section shall be:
a)for the loss of his left arm or any part thereof – the amount which would have been payable to an employee for a similar loss in respect of his right arm or the corresponding part thereof, and
b)for the loss of his right arm or any part thereof – the amount which would have been payable to an employee for a similar loss in respect of his left arm or the corresponding part thereof.
Determining right or left handedness
Where a 1930 Act hand, arm or finger impairment has been claimed by a client, it is necessary to determine whether they are right-handed or left-handed as this affects the amount of compensation payable.
It is generally preferable to have some objective evidence on this issue, e.g. a statement in a medical report, rather than rely solely on the statement of the client.
If, in an earlier claim, the client has already been accepted as either right-handed or left-handed, this earlier determination of the issue should be followed unless convincing evidence is tendered proving that the earlier determination was incorrect. Where a change is made necessary by fresh evidence, the earlier determination should be reviewed to determine whether a correction is required.
Where a person claims to be ambidextrous
If a client claims to be ambidextrous (i.e. making equal use of their right and left hand), operation of S12(2) is excluded with the effect that the amount of compensation will be based on which arm or hand (right or left) has been impaired.
It is generally preferable to have some objective evidence that the client is ambidextrous, e.g. a statement in a medical report, rather than rely solely on the statement of the client.