Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1018 13
A. Patterson
  • Cancer (lung)
  • Exposure (radon)
  • Smoking
  • Mining

The worker was a mechanic in the mining industry. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2000, at age 61, and died in 2005. The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for the lung cancer.

Long-term exposure risk of radiation in relation to development of lung cancer is directly related to the quality of the air ventilation. Where air ventilation is particularly poor, it is appropriate to take the associated radon decay products values into account by assigning the special WLM value. However, on the surface, radon gas is not likely to be a factor. In this case, there was insufficient evidence that the worker's duties as a mechanic required him to work on a regular basis in enclosed surface facilities. The Vice-Chair found that the Board was correct in not including the worker's periods of surface work in the calculation of WLMs of radiation dose exposure.
The estate submitted that maximum variation in exposure estimation should be applied in the worker's favour. However, the Vice-Chair agreed with previous Tribunal decisions that upside variation did not more accurately reflect the worker's exposure than downside variation. The medial range was the only fair way to assess the exposure.
The Vice-Chair accepted that the worker worked a lot of overtime. However, it was not quantified. Even overestimating the amount of overtime would only result in a radiation value of 28.71, which was well below the Board policy value of 40 for workers diagnosed between ages 55 and 64.
The worker had a 31.5 pack year history of smoking. This made the worker between 5.7 and 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a non-smoker.
The Vice-Chair concluded that workplace exposure was not a significant contributing factor to the worker's lung cancer. The appeal was dismissed.