Traumatic or Chronic Mental Stress policy is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2018. It comes on the heels of a 2014 Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) decision which determined that the current workplace mental stress provisions under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by discriminating against workers with mental stress.
Please keep in mind that WSIB is in the midst of finalizing the draft policy, but at this point, the policy will be effective January 1, 2018. There will be no retroactive application. After January 1, 2018 if a worker reports and seeks medical attention for a work related chronic metal stress, a WSIB Form 7 will need to be filed.
This raises several crucial questions. First, how to challenge such a claim, if believed to be unwarranted. Second, can the employer offer modified work, and if so, what can be offered for a chronic mental stress claim? Third, what preventative steps can the employer take to prevent such a claim from being filed?
Make no mistake, there is a lot to this policy; and it is significant. For construction employers this is not going to be easy. Accommodating a physical injury can be difficult at the best of times, accommodating a chronic mental stress claim(s), may very well prove to be even more challenging.
Join us for free seminar on September 13th, 2017 from 8:30 am to 10:00 am at the Ottawa Construction Association to learn more how this policy will affect your company. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
In the interim, here is a quick synopsis on what you need to know.
To obtain mental stress benefits from WSIB the worker must prove that the mental stress was "Traumatic" or "Chronic" that arose from the workplace.
An example of a traumatic event may be a result of a criminal act or traumatic accident. The draft policy provides several other examples, such as an escalation of verbal abuse into traumatic physical abuse or being the object of harassment that includes being placed in a life-threatening or potentially life-threatening situation (e.g. tampering with safety equipment; causing the worker to do something dangerous).
Chronic mental stress on the other hand is mental stress that is caused by a "substantial work-related stressor", including bullying or harassment.
Please note that the policy, as currently written, has the following exclusion:
"A worker is not entitled to benefits for mental stress caused by decisions or actions of the worker's employer relating to the worker's employment, including a decision to change the work to be performed or working conditions, to discipline the worker or to terminate the employment".
This being said, we do anticipate a significant number of claims to be filed to the WSIB since the policy will likely be subject to appeals and interpretation on what is considered "substantial work-related stressor".
For further information please contact Greg Sathmary at (613) 260-0600.