Worker’s Job Requirements Of Standing, Walking And Climbing Ladders Constituted An Increased Risk Of Sustaining A Disabling Foot Condition

In awarding benefits, the Illinois Industrial Commission held that standing and walking on a concrete surface for 95 percent of a workday while lifting items to stock shelves and climbing ladders was not something to which the general public was exposed.

Claimant worked for defendant as a store clerk. Her duties included moving pallets of merchandise and lifting merchandise from the pallet onto a cart. Claimant then pushed the cart to an aisle and stocked the shelves. She worked on a concrete floor and was frequently required to climb a ladder to stock merchandise. She testified she was on her feet 95 percent of her shift. She began noticing pain in both feet, which worsened over time. She was diagnosed with transfer metatarsalgia and plantar fasciitis. Her doctor opined it was related to the excessive amount of walking at work. Claimant was then referred to another doctor, who diagnosed plantar fasciitis with a mild bilateral tarsal tunnel condition. He opined the foot condition was not caused by work but could have been aggravated at work and became symptomatic. An other doctor examined claimant and found a causal relationship between claimant’s condition and his work. Evidence was introduced that five years earlier, claimant had a non-work related plantar fasciitis condition.

The arbitrator denied benefits, finding work did not play any part in claimant’s condition.

The Commission reversed, determining claimant sustained repetitive trauma type injuries in the form of bilateral plantar fasciitis and that her condition was causally related to her employment. The Commission noted that the medical evidence all found claimant’s job duties to have at least in part caused her condition. In addition, the Commission found that standing and walking on a concrete surface for 95 percent of a workday to place stock on shelves was not something to which the general public was exposed or that was common to the general public. Standing, walking and climbing under these circumstances constituted an increased risk to claimant. The Commission concluded claimant suffered 10 percent loss of use of each foot pursuant to Section 8(e), as she continued to experience pain in both feet, has difficulty walking and climbing stairs and is unable to stand for extended periods of time.