Workers’ Comp In-Cites
Welcome to the latest edition of Schaff & Young's Workers' Comp In-Cites. Designed to provide our clients with practical insight, Workers' Comp In-Cites outlines recent developments in Pennsylvania workers' compensation law and explains how those decisions impact our clients and their cases. Barbara Young, Michael Schaff and the other attorneys at Schaff & Young, P.C. are always available to discuss these cases – or any other questions or concerns you might have. Just give us a call at (215) 988-0090 or send an email to We look forward to hearing from you.

Two Cases Address Psychological Injuries/Abnormal Working Conditions

The Commonwealth Court tackled two cases in December addressing the standards for mental/mental psychological injuries. In Frog, Switch & Manufacturing Co. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Johnson), the Court ruled that in order to be entitled to compensation for a psychological (mental) injury under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee must establish that the injury was more than a subjective response to normal working conditions. In particular, the employee must provide evidence that specifically delineates the injury’s occurrence and cause. This remains a higher standard for causation than for physical injuries.

Next, in PA Liquor Control Board v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Kochanowicz), the Court concluded that robbery at gunpoint while working in a liquor store is an abnormal working condition, even if the employee has been provided training about workplace violence. Consequently, a robbery-related psychological condition is compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

January 2015 Edition
Volume IX
Number 1

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Court Outlines Standards for Statutory Employer

In order to be liable as a statutory employer under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer must meet the criteria in either Section 302(a) or Section 302(b) of the Act, so ruled the Commonwealth Court in Zwick v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Popchocoj). Under Section 302(a), “a person who contracts with another (1) to have work performed consisting of (i) the removal, excavation or drilling of soil, rock or minerals, or (ii) the cutting or removal of timber from lands, or (2) to have work performed of a kind which is a regular or recurrent part of the business, occupation, profession or trade of such person shall be deemed a contractor.” Conversely, Section 302(b) applies to “[a]ny employer who permits the entry upon premises occupied by him or under his control of a laborer or an assistant hired by an employe or contractor, for the performance upon such premises of a part of such employer’s regular business entrusted to that employe or contractor.” Thus, unlike Section 302(a), Section 302(b) requires a claimant to demonstrate that the alleged statutory employer occupied or exercised control over the premises where the injury occurred.