Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1353 14
R. McCutcheon
  • Aggravation (preexisting condition) (carpal tunnel syndrome)

A truck driver suffered a right hand injury when a gust of wind blew the trailer door shut and crushed her hand. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.

Board policy on aggravation provides for entitlement on an aggravation basis if a worker who has a pre-existing impairment suffers a minor work-related injury. A pre-existing impairment is a condition which has produced periods of impairment requiring health care and has caused a disruption in employment.
The Vice-Chair did not agree with characterization of the accident in this case as minor. The injury was described as a crush injury. The worker still had healing cuts three months after the accident. The worker's hand was very swollen as a result of the accident, to the extent that she could not anything with her hand. The Vice-Chair found that the accident was of at least moderate severity.
There was evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome as a pre-existing condition but there was no evidence of a pre-existing impairment within the meaning of Board policy. There was no evidence that she lost any time from work due to any pre-existing impairment of the right hand.
There was medical evidence that the swelling caused by the accident caused the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms to became evident in the right hand. This established that, but for the compensable accident, the worker's carpal tunnel syndrome would not have become manifest. Thus, the compensable accident was a significant contributing factor to the manifestation of symptoms in the right hand.
The worker had entitlement for right carpal tunnel syndrome, without limitation to an aggravation basis.
The worker had entitlement for left carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of overuse due to the right hand injury.
The worker was entitled to ongoing LOE benefits based on actual earnings as a truck dispatcher following completion of LMR services.
The appeal was allowed.