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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 166 20
2/6/2020
D. Revington

  • Second Injury and Enhancement Fund {SIEF} (severity of accident)
  • Second Injury and Enhancement Fund {SIEF} (severity of preexisting condition)
  • Second Injury and Enhancement Fund {SIEF} (preexisting condition) (ageing)

The worker was a personal care worker who injured her back at work in January 2016 while transferring a client from a wheelchair to a bed.
The employer was seeking SIEF relief in this claim making submissions both with respect to the severity of the accident and the pre-existing condition.
Relying on Decision No. 960/13, the employer submitted that the accident should be characterized as a minor accident. The Vice-Chair however distinguished this case, finding in the appeal before him that the worker was performing an awkward function in the transfer, which involved heaving lifting of a client without use of special equipment. The Vice-Chair found that the accident was best categorized as moderate.
With respect to the pre-existing condition, there was evidence that the worker suffered from symptomatic degenerative changes to the lumbar spine.
The Vice-Chair adopted the reasoning in Decision No. 2970/18 that the SIEF policy applied both to a pre-existing condition or disability that had been symptomatic before the accident even where there had been no disruption in employment.
The Vice-Chair also noted prior Tribunal caselaw that degenerative changes typical of a worker's age are not in and of itself a pre-existing condition for the purposes of the policy. In this case however the degenerative changes in this 62 year old worker were so pronounced as to require surgery and medication to manage the pain arising from the condition.
The Vice-Chair found that the pre-existing condition in this case should be categorized as major. Given this finding it was not necessary to address the employer's submission in respect of the worker's obesity.
Under OPM Document 14-05-03 75% SIEF relief was warranted in the circumstances.