Section 2 of the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases1 defines an industrial accident as "a sudden and unforeseen event, attributable to any cause, which happens to a person, arising out of or in the course of his work and resulting in an employment injury to him".
In a decision rendered on June 6, 2007, the Commission des lésions professionnelles (hereinafter the "CLP") held that a fall sustained when a worker was on her way back from smoking a cigarette outside the establishment and was a few feet away from the entrance constituted an industrial accident sustained while she was at work2.
For an accident to be considered to have occurred while at work, the jurisprudence relies on the test of connectedness, i.e., the existence of a more or less close connection between the work and the activity carried on when the injury occurs. There are a number of factors that are used to determine such connectedness, namely the place and time of the event, the remuneration for the activity carried on when the event occurred, the existence and degree of the employer’s authority or subordination, even though the event may not occur on the premises or during working hours, the end purpose of the activity carried on when the event occurred and, finally, the connectedness or relative usefulness of the worker’s activity to the performance of work.
In this case, the CLP recognized that smoking a cigarette constitutes a personal activity and that an accident occurring during that activity is not in the professional sphere, and cannot constitute an industrial accident. However, it found that the worker had returned to the professional sphere when she headed toward her employer’s establishment to return to work.
Furthermore, the majority CLP jurisprudence holds that an accident that occurs when a worker is arriving at or leaving the work premises by way of the usual entrances and exits constitutes an event that occurred at work. This includes not only the beginning and end of the work shift, but also departure and arrival to or from a meal or break.