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WORKERS’ COMPENSATION - Entitlement to benefits - Accident

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 @ 6:14 AM  

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Appeal by Inkster from a decision dismissing his application for judicial review of the appeal commission’s decision dismissing his appeal from the denial of compensation by the Workers Compensation Board. The appellant was employed as a truck driver at a dam construction site. The appellant, who was also a licensed blaster, saw what he believed were unsafe labour practices in an area that contained undetonated explosives. He was concerned that there could be an unintended explosion, causing harm to those, including himself, in the immediate vicinity. After an investigation, the investigator determined that the appellant’s misfire concerns had been dealt with more than adequately and totally in keeping with the legislated requirements and the contractor’s responsibilities. The appellant then complained of various symptoms due to stress. A psychiatrist reported that the appellant had chronic PTSD, which he attributed, in part, to the traumatic event of being near an explosive site and knowing the potential consequences of something going wrong. The appellant then sought workers compensation based on the PTSD diagnosis. The Board concluded that his injury did not result from an accident within the Workers Compensation Act. The appeal commission found the appellant subjectively believed that he was exposed to a dangerous event but that, objectively, there was no dangerous situation or condition. It held that, because there was no dangerous situation or condition, the event did not constitute either an accident or a traumatic event within the meaning of the Act.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The appeal commission did not err by failing to accept the psychiatrist’s finding that the appellant suffered a traumatic event. The psychiatrist had no independent source and no first-hand personal knowledge of any of the events. There was no evidence the psychiatrist knew that the explosives were not capable of exploding. The question of whether there was a traumatic event was a decision for the appeal commission to make based on all the evidence, and it was not bound by the psychiatrist’s conclusions. The appeal commission’s decision that there was no traumatic event was reasonable. The appeal commission accepted that the appellant felt that he was in danger at the worksite but found that there had to be reasonable evidence of the danger and that, in this case, there was no confirmation that a dangerous condition existed, or situation occurred. It was open to the appeal commission, based on the totality of the evidence, to make this finding as to the nature of the events experienced by the appellant. This was a factual finding that was entitled to deference. The appeal commission’s determination that his claim did not meet the definition of an accident by occupational disease and, therefore, failed on either basis, was thus reasonable.

Inkster v. Manitoba (Workers Compensation Board), [2021] M.J. No. 37, Manitoba Court of Appeal, H.C. Beard, D.M. Cameron and J.A. Pfuetzner JJ.A., February 22, 2021. Digest No. TLD-April192021007