No more than a reasonable time must ensue after an employee reaches an employer's premises prior to the time for beginning work, during which time an accident occurring shall be construed as arising out of and in the course of the employment. Accordingly, where, as here, the employer made provision for employees to enter the building as much as 30 minutes before work time in order to have time to change into work clothes in a room on the work premises provided by the employer for this purpose, and thereafter be at the exact place of work at the designated time, and the employee making use of these facilities on the premises of the employer was injured by a fall, twenty minutes before work time, the Board of Workmen's Compensation as a fact-finding tribunal was authorized to find that twenty minutes was not an unreasonable length of time for the employee to have in which to go to the dressing room, change clothes, and be at the work station at a designated work time.
This workmen's compensation case represents an appeal of the Fairforest Company, the employer, and General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation, its insurance carrier, from a judgment of the Superior Court of Muscogee County affirming an award of a director of the Board of Workmen's Compensation in favor of Mrs. Jennie Mae Worley, employee of the Fairforest Company, and defendant in error here. The sole disputed issue on appeal is whether the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment. The evidence disclosed that the claimant was required to be at her machine on the third floor of the textile factory where she was employed when the whistle blew at 3 p.m.; that employees were admitted to the building from 2:30 on; that the employer maintained a dressing room at the rear of the third floor for the convenience of employees who desire to change their clothes before and after work, as the work is dirty; that quite a few of the employees do so and that the management expects them to make use of these facilities if they want to; that the claimant entered the mill at twenty minutes of three and went to the third floor for the purpose of changing her clothes in the dressing room and proceeding to the machines; that she slipped and fell on the floor of the main aisle in front of a Coca Cola machine, fracturing her coccyx and sustaining other injuries.
The director hearing the case found that the claimant had entered the employer's premises and was making preparations to go to work, and entered an award in her favor. Error is assigned on the affirmance of this award by the judge of the superior court on appeal thereto.
(After stating the foregoing facts.) It is contended by counsel for the plaintiff in error that the accident on which this claim is based, occurring as it did some twenty minutes before the employee was required by her employer to be at her machine, is not compensable in that it does not arise "out of and in the course of" the employment as required by Code 114-102. When injuries are sustained by employees who are not at the moment actually engaged in doing the work they have been hired to do, during time for which compensation is paid them, but who are performing acts preparatory to entering or leaving their employment, or other incidental acts within the period of their employment but not strictly in furtherance of it, it becomes ordinarily a question of fact as to whether the requirements of the Workmen's Compensation Law have been met, and the burden is upon the claimant to meet these requirements. One who, although traveling in transportation furnished by the employer, went 18 miles out of his way upon purely personal business was not entitled to compensation for injuries received at that time. United States Fidelity &c. Co. v. Skinner, 188 Ga. 823 (1) (5 S. E. 2d, 9). Ordinarily, whether or not the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment is a question of fact, and the award of the Board, if supported by any evidence, is conclusive. On this proposition it has many times been decided that where the Board of Workmen's Compensation found that injuries received going to or leaving the employment, or during the lunch period, did not arise out of the employment, this was binding upon appellate tribunals. Ocean Accident &c. Corp. Farr, 180 Ga. 266 (178 S. E. 728); Austin v. General Accident, Fire &c. Assurance Corp., 56 Ga. App. 481 (193 S. E. 86); Employers Liability Assurance Corp. v. Woodward, 53 Ga. App. 778 (187 S. E. 142); Finch v. Evins Amusement Co., 80 Ga. App. 457 (56 S. E. 2d, 489). As was stated in Employers Liability Assurance Corp. v. Pruitt, 63 Ga. App. 149, 155 (10 S. E. 2d, 275): "In the instant case the board was authorized to find in favor of the claimant; in the Farr case in favor of the employer; and this court can not interfere." One of the facts which must necessarily distinguish each case is the length of time between the reception of the injuries and the hours of employment. In Jackson v. Lumberman's Mutual Casualty Co., 33 Ga. App. 35 (125 S. E. 515) the court quotes the following with approval from the award entered up by the commission: "The Industrial Commission is thoroughly committed to the principle that a reasonable time must ensue after an employee reaches an employer's premises prior to the time work should begin, and a reasonable time after work ends before leaving his employer's premises, during which time an accident occurring shall be construed as arising out of and in the course of the employment. It is not necessary here, however, to decide what constitutes a reasonable time. The Industrial Commission holds that two hours is not a reasonable time . . ." In Williams v. American Mutual Liability Ins. Co.,
72 Ga. App. 205
(33 S. E. 2d, 451) injuries received in a fire on the employer's premises were held compensable where it appeared that the claimant had been waiting for a period of over two hours for his shift to begin, but that the accident occurred within a half hour prior to the inception of his duties, and that employees were required to be at the plant 30 minutes before work time. In Employers Ins. Co. of Alabama v. Bass, 81 Ga. App. 306 (3)
(58 S. E. 2d, 516) an award of the board was affirmed where the claimant was carrying his tools to his work station some ten minutes in advance of the time it was necessary for him to report, and about fifteen minutes before he was to begin work.
In the present case the company opened its doors to its employees thirty minutes in advance of commencement of work; it furnished them a dressing room located within the building on the same floor on which the claimant was working, and expected them to make use of these facilities if they desired, although it did not require them to do so. In view of the fact that the employer made provisions for employees to do exactly what the claimant was doing in this case, that is, enter the building ahead of time in order to change into working clothes, and in view of the fact that twenty minutes cannot be held an unreasonable length of time to proceed to the dressing room, change clothes and proceed to her work station, the award of the Board of Workmen's Compensation is not without evidence to support it. See also Maryland Casualty Co. v. Sanders, 49 Ga. App. 600 (2) (176 S. E. 104).
The judge of the superior court did not err in affirming the award of the Board of Workmen's Compensation.
Judgment affirmed. Gardner, P. J., and Carlisle, J., concur.