Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 95 09 I
22/09/2015
M. Keil - M. Christie - D. Broadbent
  • Evidence (weight)
  • Procedure (leading case strategy)
  • Exposure (fibreglass)

The Panel detailed a leading case strategy to deal with claims, related to exposure at a fibreglass plant in Sarnia, for health problems, primarily cancers and respiratory conditions.

There were approximately 90 claims initiated at the Board. Because of the numbers involved and length of time it was taking to process individual claims, the Board decided to hire a certified hygienist to compile an exposure database, which was subsequently peer reviewed before being implemented. The Board then used that database as an educational tool to assist its occupational hygienists and adjudicators in adjudicating individual claims within a consistent framework. An asbestos guideline and a silica and dust guideline were also prepared.
About 30 to 40 claims will be coming to the Tribunal. In this first case, the Panel considered joint submissions from the parties with respect to the process to be undertaken by the Tribunal.
The Panel agreed with the parties that it made sense to have a dedicated panel to consider and adjudicate all of these cases in a consistent and well-informed manner. Given the education process involved, it would be an efficient utilization of Tribunal resources to use the expertise gained from this first case to adjudicate the others. Each case will be decided on its own merits but rigorous consistency in respect to general facts from the first case will be applied to the following cases.
The Panel reviewed the general evidence extensively and made determinations regarding the description of the plant, the lay-out, changes over the years and summaries of job descriptions and possible exposures.
The Panel considered the documents prepared for the Board, specifically the exposure database, the asbestos guideline and the silica and dust guideline. The exposure database had some limitations but broadly served as a reasonable tool to assess exposure. It should be considered in concert with evidence of exposure particular to the individual worker to reach a complete assessment of likely exposure.
The asbestos guideline constituted a reasonable starting point in establishing asbestos exposure. The silica and dust guideline also represented a useful baseline for considering exposure.
The next interim decision will consider the specific exposures of the leading case worker in light of the Panel's general findings and in the context of evidence specific to this worker. The Panel will then move into the causation phase.