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Established in 1985, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) is the final level of appeal to which workers and employers may bring disputes concerning workplace safety and insurance matters in Ontario. WSIAT has always been separate from and independent of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

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  Decision 2447 12
12/5/2013
A. Patterson

  • Cancer (lung)
  • Exposure (arsenic)
  • Exposure (asbestos)
  • Smoking
  • Mining (nickel)

The worker was a maintenance mechanic at a nickel producer from 1951 to 1991. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999 and died in 2007. The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying the worker entitlement for the lung cancer. The estate claimed that the worker was employed in the sinter plant for a period of about three months in 1957. However, the Vice-Chair found that the worker did not work in the sinter plant. The worker's name was not on the sinter plant register. The Vice-Chair reviewed the efforts expended to compile the sinter plant register, which included the employer's records and advertisements placed in newspapers across the country in 1978. When those advertisements were placed in newspapers, the worker was living in the city in which the sinter plant was located and was, in fact, still working for the employer. The worker's name was on the employer's asbestos exposure register. It indicated that the worker had exposure for approximately 40 minutes per month between 1956 and 1979, for a total cumulative exposure of 177 hours as a maintenance mechanic. The Vice-Chair noted the scope and variety of the worker's duties and found that the contact with asbestos products was incidental to his employment. The worker was not an asbestos worker within Board policy. The Vice-Chair concluded that the worker did not have sufficient occupational exposure to asbestos to grant entitlement under Board Operational Policy Manual, Document No. 16-02-03. The worker had some exposure to arsenic as a result of cleaning the top of furnaces as part of his job duties during a five-year period. However, he was not exposed to any significant level of arsenic trioxide, which is the type of arsenic listed in Document No. 16-02-02. The forms of arsenic to which he was exposed while cleaning the top of furnaces were not associated with development of lung cancer. The worker had a 35 pack year history of smoking. This was a significant smoking history which would place the worker at a minimum relative risk of five times more likely to develop lung cancer than someone who has never smoked. The appeal was dismissed.