Blog Post #590 – New Line on Stress Claims

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Proposed legislative amendments could open the door to a wider array of events precipitating compensable stress claims in British Columbia.

Draft changes to the Worker’s Compensation Act (WCA) – tabled in the legislature by labour minister Margaret MacDiarmid on November 4, 2011, would see coverage expanded to include work-related stress caused by cumulative or reaction to one or more traumatic events. At present, the WCA covers mental stress resulting from an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event.

“There are injuries that can happen to people in the workplace and build up over time, may be over a number of months, and they end up with a chronic problem that gets in the way of their work. We are putting exactly the same perspective on mental health problems,” says MacDiarmid.

“Just as we wouldn’t expect a window washer who sustains physical injuries to go it alone, we shouldn’t expect workers who experience mental health problems as a result of their job to fend for themselves,” says Bev Gutray, CEO of the British Columbia arm of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vancouver.

MacDiarmid says the draft changes were introduced amid concerns that covering only acute reactions to single traumatic events could result in challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or human rights laws.

If passed, the requirements were to take effect in early 2012. It is estimated that any resulting claims will carry costs of approximately $18 million annually.

Officials for WorkSafeBC, based in Richmond, British Columbia, will outline as part of a new policy what situations and circumstances could be linked to a compensable condition. “Stress resulting from employment decisions like discipline, termination or a change in working conditions will continue to be excluded from coverage,” adds the ministry.

Individuals will need to obtain a diagnosis and the stress must be shown to be work-related, MacDiarmid emphasizes.

My opinion

Here we are in 2015, and it has been deemed that stress will be the number two killer right behind heart disease.

People are stressed out over their jobs, their families, their futures, the political climate, (or lack thereof) and even the day-to-day world and local news. Add the stress directly related to the job and the workers are going to be at risk and our healthcare system is going to be overtaxed. Add the time that is needed to create this chronic condition, since some people are staying on the job longer, the stress signs may or may not be there but are there nonetheless.

Lastly, as a member of management or ownership of your company, consider mental wellness of your work staff as a positive. Have barbecues, get-togethers, include the staff in many of the day-to-day decisions. Make them feel that they are in an integral part of the business and a positive influence to the future of that business.

By the way, violence and harassment due to stress is a real hazard. Ontario created the new legislation in June 2010 and all companies must be in compliance and have a violence program and a harassment program ready to go. HRS Group Inc. has a wonderful pro-active violence and harassment program to deliver to your company that will identify that special person, usually someone in HR or in middle management, that all persons feel comfortable with, can be discreet, and has the authority to deal with the day-to-day violence or harassment issue.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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