The following policy and procedures were recently revised or introduced. All references to the “Act” are to The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.
Injuries – Occupational Disease (POL & PRO 04/2017)
The WCB establishes if an injury is work-related by determining if it arose out of and in the course of employment. Under the Act, a work-related injury can include occupational diseases. POL & PRO 04/2017, Injuries – Occupational Disease, establish guidelines for occupational disease injuries. The documents have been updated as follows:
- The policy directs that claims should be reported to the WCB where a worker has been exposed to a harmful substance (e.g., asbestosis, silica, etc.) during employment, even if the worker does not initially experience symptoms, seek medical or experience earnings loss past the day of exposure.
- The procedure has been updated to clarify the Chief Medical Officer’s and the Medical Officers’ role in ensuring the most up-to-date information concerning occupational diseases is being applied.
- The appendices attached to the procedure describe common occupational diseases.
Interjurisdictional Agreement on Workers’ Compensation (IJA) (POL & PRO 10/2017)
The Act allows WCB to enter an interjurisdictional agreement to provide compensation to customers where work is performed partly within Saskatchewan and partly within another province or territory. These agreements allow customers to receive benefits from either the Saskatchewan WCB or another jurisdiction. We have revised our policy and procedure, POL & PRO 10/2017, which establish the guidelines for these interjurisdictional injury claims. The following changes have been made:
- The documents clarify that WCB will only proceed with adjudication once:
- Employer Services staff have confirmed that the employer is eligible for coverage under the Act.
- An election form (WEF) has been returned/signed indicating through which Board the worker is electing coverage.
- The procedure has been updated to note that customers will have three months from the date the WCB sends a WEF to return the form indicating if they choose coverage in Saskatchewan. If a WEF is not received following the three months WCB staff:
- May authorize/recommend an extension of the notice period.
- Will notify the customer that the claim has been disallowed. In most cases, IJA claims will not be adjudicated unless the worker returns a signed WEF indicating what province they are electing coverage through.
- The documents also now direct that the SK WCB will determine eligibility for and consider any appeals for cost relief on IJA claims if Saskatchewan is the reimbursing board.
- The documents clarify that benefits provided through the IJA may not result in employer protection from lawsuit in every circumstance.
- The WEF form has been updated to clarify that the form is required for injuries outside SK (for SK residents) and in SK (for non-residents)
Second Injury and Re-Employment Reserve (POL & PRO 11/2017)
Section 145 of the Act provides for the setting aside of a special fund to meet loss “arising from any disaster or other circumstance the liability for which would, in the opinion of the board, unfairly burden the employers in any class.” The Second Injury and Re-Employment Reserve was established to provide employers with cost relief on claims attributed to earlier injuries and to assist in facilitating return to work.
POL & PRO 11/2017 have been updated to:
- Clarify that cost relief will be applied when a non-work-related pre-existing condition was involved. WCB will charge total claims costs to the reserve if conditions of the worker’s employment increased the risk of an injury occurring or the severity of the injury because of the pre-existing condition.
- Clarify that claim acceptance and any subsequent cost relief is based on whether the injury arose out of employment, not because it was “caused” by a pre-existing condition (POL 03/2017, Arising Out of and In the Course of Employment).
- Direct that the WCB will charge partial claim costs to the reserve if recovery from a work injury is prolonged because a worker’s non-work related pre-existing condition is “aggravated” or “accelerated” by a work injury.
- Clarify cost relief for “second injuries”.
- Clarify that cost relief will be provided if a worker’s prosthetic device, prescribed for a previous work injury, fails and causes an injury.
Pre-Existing Conditions – Aggravation or Acceleration (POL & PRO 12/2017)
WCB considers a pre-existing condition to be a non-work related medical, physical or psychological condition that existed prior to the work-related injury. The existence of the condition must be medically confirmed, either pre-injury or post-injury, and may have been evident prior to the occurrence of the work injury or it may become evident afterwards.
POL & PRO 12/2017, Pre-Existing Conditions – Acceleration or Aggravation, have been updated as follows:
- The documents clarify that a worker’s pre-existing condition shouldn’t be considered during the initial decision to accept a claim, even though it may have increased the possibility that the worker would sustain a work injury. The decision to accept a claim is based on if the injury arose out of & in the course of employment (POL 03/2017, Arising Out of and In the Course of Employment applies).
- The procedure includes an appendix with updated examples for “acceleration” and “aggravation” of a pre-existing condition.
- Adjudication principles for claims with pre-existing conditions is captured through POL & PRO 03/2017, Arising Out Of & In the Course of Employment (which was updated and effective September 1, 2017).
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