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January 10, 2012

Iowa: Employee Compensated for an Injury While Tying His Boots

On appeal to the head of the Iowa workers’ compensation agency, a utility worker was compensated for a knee injury sustained while tying his boot at work, in Kerslake v. Alliant Energy, File No. 5028428, Appeal Decision by Commissioner Godfrey filed March 22, 2011.


Mr. Kerslake, an employee of Alliant Energy, was preparing to climb a utility pole, as part of a test to be recertified for pole rescue work. To take the test, the claimant had to wear specialized “pole-climbing” boots, to climb the pole and to pass the test. Although he had put the boots on at home, he bent over at work to tighten the laces. The agency found that the boot laces had to be tight to brace his legs while climbing the pole. As he was tightening the laces, he injured his knee. While the employer argued that the employee was simply taking part in an “innocuous” activity, similar to one that he might do regardless of work, the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner decided on appeal that the act of tightening his “pole-climbing” boots was a specific, work-related duty, to prepare to be recertified as part of his job. He received an award of 12.5% impairment to the lower extremity, due to an ensuing knee injury.

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