Workers Compensation

Hypertension caused by the stress of a work Injury

hypertension stress work injuryHow does a work injury cause stress?

A work injury can be extremely stressful for an injured worker.  Not only does a worker have to deal with the pain of their injury which at times can be chronic, they often have to attend multiple medical providers on a regular basis to assist with their recovery. A worker may often feel that they are not believed as to the circumstances of their injury or the extent of their injury.  A work injury may also limit a worker’s activity levels resulting in weight gain.  Weight gain may also result from a regime of medication required to assist a worker with their pain.  All these stressors can potentially result in a worker experiencing elevated blood pressure resulting in hypertension (high blood pressure).

Case Study

In Farncombe v Return to Work SA [2021] SAET11  the issue of hypertension associated with the stress related to a work injury was considered.  Prior to his work injury Mr Farncombe was a fit 34-year-old who was once a semi professional soccer player. Mr Farncombe suffered a work injury during the course of his employment as a delivery driver for Southern Star – he was lifting a heavy window out of a truck when he felt his back go out.  Mr Farncombe experienced:

  • bullying and harassment in the workplace associated with his work injury,
  • continued scrutiny related to his work injury,
  • reduction in his income maintenance payments,
  • the inability to return to his pre-injury employment,
  • stress associated with rehabilitation and the return to work process, and
  • falling into financial difficulty due to his reduced income.

Mr Farncombe also experienced weight gain as a result of his inactivity and intake of medication.  Mr Farncombe consulted his family doctor who diagnosed him with cardiovascular hypertension.

The issue before the tribunal was whether Mr Farncombe’s hypertension was a compensable injury, whether it arose out of the course of his employment and whether employment was a significant contributing factor.

President Justice Dolphin held that the worker’s cardiovascular hypertension condition was materially contributed to by his chronic lower back pain resulting from his work injury and various stresses and anxiety associated with the work injury.  Whilst there may have been other non-work-related stressors that may have also contributed to his hypertension, His Honour held that Mr Farncombe’s employment with Southern Star was a significant contributing cause of his hypertension.  As a result, the worker’s hypertension was considered a compensable work injury.

Get in touch

If you are experiencing hypertension and you believe it may be as a result of a work injury, you may be entitled to compensation.

At Tindall Gask Bentley, our expert team of experienced workers compensation lawyers can guide you through the process from beginning to end, so you can concentrate on your recovery while we manage your claim.

To book your first free appointment call us on (08) 8212 1077 (SA), (08) 9211 5800 (WA) or (08) 8995 9520 (NT).