Effective date: December 1, 2013
Approved date: September 29, 2013
Application: All heart attack claims on or after the effective date.
Policy subject: Decision making - Injuries
To establish adjudication guidelines for heart attack claims.
Unusual physical exertion or strain means the exertion or strain is unusual when compared to:
- An individual’s normal work duties, and
- Their active lifestyle outside of work.
Acute means a specific, dramatic and sudden incident.
Emergency response means those circumstances where firefighters attend a crisis situation as part of their duties. Examples include a fire or car crash.
Pre-existing condition means a non-work-related medical condition that existed prior to the work-related injury.
Under Section 20 of The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 (the “Act”), the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will determine:
- Whether a condition or death was a result of an injury, and
- Whether an injury has arisen out of or in the course of employment.
- Heart attack claims are work injuries when one of the following has occurred:
- The worker performed unusual physical exertions or strains within a few hours of the onset of heart attack symptoms. For example, an office worker who spends most of their time at a desk is required to move heavy office furniture.
- The worker experienced an acute emotional shock within a few hours of the onset of heart attack symptoms (POL 02/2017, Injuries – Psychological).
- The worker received an injury as a result of occupational hazards that placed unusual stress on the heart. For example:
- An electric shock.
- Chest injury, or
- The inhalation of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide or methane.
- The worker had heart problems during medical treatment for a work injury. For example, reaction to anesthetic.
- Heart attack claims will typically require detailed file development. This will involve obtaining:
- All relevant medical information. This includes records of prior heart problems, and
- Details of the circumstances leading up to the initial onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of a heart attack.
- In certain instances a worker may not recognize the initial symptoms as an indicator of heart problems. This can cause a delay in the diagnosis. Coverage may be provided if:
- The diagnosis occurred within 24 hours of an unusual physical exertion or acute emotional shock, and
- The worker experienced symptoms within a few hours of the work event.
- When a firefighter has a heart attack within 24 hours of attending an emergency response, the WCB will determine the claim under POL 03/2020, Injuries – Firefighters.
- Factors such as pre-existing conditions and lifestyle may contribute to heart disease. As a result, each heart attack claim will be considered on its own merits. Review by a WCB Medical Consultant may be required (POL 12/2017, Pre-Existing Conditions – Aggravation or Acceleration).
- When a worker is found dead at a worksite, the WCB will determine the claim under POL 04/2014, Fatalities, Presumption.
The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013
Sections 20, 23, 28, 29
The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations, 1985
(1) January 1, 2014. References updated in accordance with The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.
(2) POL and PRO 12/2007, Injuries – Cardiac (effective March 1, 2006 to November 30, 2013)
(3) POL and PRO 04/2004, Injuries – Cardiac (effective August 1, 2004 to February 28, 2006).
(4) POL 31/72, Injuries – Cardiac (effective April 19, 1972 to July 31, 2004).
PRO 05/2013 Injuries – Heart Attack
POL 04/2017 Injuries – Occupational Disease
PRO 04/201 Injuries – Occupational Disease
POL 03/2020 Injuries – Firefighters
PRO 03/2020 Injuries – Firefighters
POL 12/2017 Pre-Existing Condition – Aggravation or Acceleration
POL 02/2017 Injuries – Psychological
POL 04/2014 Fatalities, Presumption
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