Coffee break injuries classed as work-related

Thanks to Calle Montell and his four year court battle, Swedes who hurt themselves during their coffee break can classify the damage as a workplace injury.

Montell’s fight for the right to compensation began on 31 October 2002. A stove salesman by trade, Montell, who hails from Norrtälje near Stockholm, was drinking coffee and eating biscuits with a customer when the unthinkable happened.

Inside his biscuit lay a concealed cherry stone. Anticipating nothing more than the sweet mixture of business and biscuits, Montell was unprepared for the clash of teeth and stone seed. The business meeting came to a sudden end and Montell was forced to leave with a broken tooth.

He turned to the Social Insurance Administration for help. Surely they would cover the costs of his dental care?

“I thought I should get compensation in accordance with the rules surrounding workplace injuries since I was visiting a customer, which is part of my work. But they didn’t accept my explanation,” Montell told Expressen.

Adamant that justice should prevail, Montell appealed the decision to the County Court. And he won.

But the Social Insurance Administration refused to accept the decision and brought the case to the Administrative Court of Appeal. This time the government agency emerged victorious.

Having taken it so far, Montell was not prepared to take the decision lying down. His coffee break case went to the Supreme Administrative Court, which finally ruled that dental costs resulting from the biscuit incident were indeed work-related.

“Calle Montell’s coffee-drinking with his customer can hardly be viewed as an activity separate from his work and may be considered to have a clear connection with his work as a salesman,” wrote the court in a verdict that will form a precedent for future cases.

“I have fought for the rest of mankind,” said the stove-seller.

“Think of everybody who has to have a coffee break at work: the priest who has to drink church cofffee, the crane driver who has a cuppa in his crane and the flight captain who can’t leave the cockpit,” he added.

Stove salesmen all over the country can continue drinking coffee and munching buns safe in the knowledge that a stale Danish or a faulty flapjack will not break the bank.