Thousands of Canadians go to work everyday without even thinking about the possibility of having an accident in the workplace. Obviously, should not be any other way; otherwise, nobody could perform their duties properly. In practice mishaps happen, and it is very important to know where we stand in the event, that we have to face this difficult situation.
An accident at work is defined as an external, sudden, unexpected, unintended, during the execution of work or arising out of it that may result damage, injury, fatality, material or environmental damages.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue their employer for the tort of negligence. Provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages, compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses, and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment. General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in worker compensation plans, and negligence is generally not an issue in the case.
The Most Common Workplace Injuries
The most commonly reported workplace injuries are: death, head injuries, brain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, lung cancer, and cancer caused by asbestos exposure (mesothelioma).
Many construction accidents involve electrocution. Welding activities are another common cause of accidents. Trenching is another of the highest risk activities. Recently crane injuries and fatalities have been noted.
In the case of motor vehicle accidents, there are special situations that are confusing. For example, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, if you are a driver in the course of your employment duties, you may have to seek recovery through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, rather than through the “normal” insurance. An early determination of these jurisdiction and forum issues is critical in order that you take the steps necessary within the many prescribed time limits because in every case the injured party is responsible for making application for the benefits and compensation they are entitled to.
Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading causes of workplace lost-time injury in Ontario. They can occur in any workplace, and nearly 20% of all lost-time injury claims in Ontario relate to slips, trips and falls.
Ministry of Labour inspectors focus on workplace hazards. They may take enforcement action if they find violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.
If the accident arises out of the worker’s employment, it is presumed to have occurred in the course of the employment unless the contrary is shown. However, a worker is not entitled to benefits if the accident occurs while the worker is employed outside of Ontario. Under the insurance plan a worker is entitled to benefits for:
- Mental stress that is an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event arising out of and in the course of their employment. However, the worker is not entitled to benefits for mental stress caused by his or her employer’s decisions or actions relating to the worker’s employment, including a decision to change the work to be performed or the working conditions, to discipline the worker or to terminate the employment.
- Occupational diseases if a worker suffers from and is impaired by an occupational disease that occurs due to the nature of one or more employments in which the worker was engaged as if the disease were a personal injury by accident and as if the impairment were the happening of the accident.
- Heart injury. If a worker is a firefighter or fire investigator, an injury to the heart in certain circumstances is presumed to be a personal injury arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment, unless the contrary is shown.
For more information see also “Employment” – “Workers Compensation” and “Accidents” – “Accident Benefits Claims” pages in the “Everything About” Section.