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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 2028 18
8/30/2018
D. Revington - S. Sahay - A. Kosny

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Disablement (repetitive work)
  • Office worker (keyboarding)
  • Medical report (Tribunal medical discussion paper)

The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for carpal tunnel syndrome resulting from repetitive work on a computer.
A Tribunal discussion paper on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome states that the majority of CTS cases occur in the non-working population. It notes that the majority of studies have shown that have shown CTS to be prevalent in specific occupations, including computer entry work, have utilized flawed methods. The Panel noted that a medical discussion paper does not fetter the Tribunal's discretion. The Panel did not interpret the discussion paper to preclude entitlement in every case. The Panel also referred to an exception in the discussion paper for when work on a computer may cause CTS. That exception involves rare cases where the onset of CTS symptoms coincides with repetitive work on a computer and where the CTS symptoms abate when not working on a computer.
The Panel conducted a review of a number of Tribunal decisions decided in the last 10 years where entitlement to CTS was an issue and it was alleged that work involving use of a computer was a factor. That review indicated a number of consistent points of analysis: where there was little or no specific medical information showing a causal relationship between the work and development of CTS, entitlement for CTS was denied; where there was specific medical opinion supporting a relationship, entitlement was granted; the exception in the discussion paper has been applied; one of the factors in denying entitlement has been variation in job duties, as opposed to constant work on the computer.
In this case, the worker had two prior injuries that were found to be caused by repetitive work. The worker continued to perform demanding and repetitive computer-intensive work throughout the work day. There was strongly supportive medical opinion from the worker's treating practitioners, including a neurologist, family doctor and physiotherapist. While the Panel put significant weight on the discussion paper, it found that the worker fell within the exception in the discussion paper for onset of symptoms caused by work on the computer and abatement of symptoms when stopping work on the computer. This was the pattern with the prior claims.
The Panel concluded that the worker had entitlement for carpal tunnel syndrome. The appeal was allowed.