Bus Driver’s Vehicle Configuration Results In Benefit Award

Case name: Miller v. Woodstock Community School District No. 20 ILWCLB 72 (Ill.Ind.Comm.2004).

Ruling: The Commission awarded benefits to a bus driver who injured her arm when she slipped while reaching over to take the keys out of the ignition.  The claimant fell as a result of the configuration of the bus.

What it means: A claimant who must maneuver through a confined and awkwardly configured work space is at a greater risk of injury than the general public.

Summary: The claimant testified she drives a bus for wheelchair-bound students and students who can walk. In order to get into the driver’s seat, the claimant had to climb over the engine cover located inside the bus and slide into the seat. This was a confined area between the seat and her only exit, the front door located on the passenger’s side.  The claimant testified that at the end of her work shift, she returned the bus to the yard, exited her seat and placed a sign in the window at the back of the bus. She then returned to the front to turn off the engine.  While performing this task, she slipped and injured her right hand. The arbitrator awarded benefits, finding that the claimant fell as a result of the configuration of the bus and the location of the engine cover. It would be highly unlikely that an ordinary member of the general public would be exposed to the same risk of injury as the claimant. The Commission affirmed.

The configuration of the bus required that the claimant put one leg on the engine cover and reach over to turn off the engine and retrieve the ignition key.  While performing this task, the claimant turned toward the door, tripped and grabbed a handrail with her right hand to try to prevent falling. When this occurred, she injured her right arm.