Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1290 17
R. McCutcheon
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (cancer) (gastrointestinal)
  • Cancer (multiple myeloma)
  • Exposure (asbestos)
  • Welding
  • Cancer (rectum)

The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying the worker entitlement for rectal cancer and multiple myeloma.

The worker worked for two years (1952 and 1953) as an insulator and for 28 years (1956 to 1984) as a pipe welder.
Board Operational Policy Manual, Document No. 16-02-11, on gastro-intestinal cancer in workers with asbestos exposure, provides that claims for gastro-intestinal cancer are favourably considered if there is a clear and adequate history of occupational exposure to asbestos dust that is of a continuous and repetitive nature and represents the major component of the occupational activity.
In this case, the worker had two years of excessive asbestos exposure while employed as an insulator. While employed as a welder, approximately seven years (25% of his 28 years in that employment) involved excessive exposure. The other 75% of his time in that employment had potential for exposure at a lower level of intensity. The worker also had pleural plaques, a biological marker for asbestos exposure.
Based on that exposure, the Vice-Chair was satisfied that the worker had sufficient exposure to find that he had continuous and repetitive exposure to asbestos in a manner that was a major component of his work duties, within the requirements of Board policy. Since the worker met the eligibility criteria for gastro-intestinal cancer entitlement in the policy, it was not necessary to consider non-work-related factors. The worker had entitlement for the rectal cancer.
There is no specific Board policy on multiple myeloma. Therefore, entitlement is determined based on the evidence in the individual case and the principles of causation.
While there is some evidence of an association between benzene and multiple myeloma, that relationship is unproven. Furthermore, the worker's occupational exposure to benzene was limited and sporadic. The worker was age 76 at the time of diagnosis of multiple myeloma, so that he had age as an independent risk factor. The Vice-Chair concluded that the worker did not have entitlement for multiple myeloma.
The appeal was allowed in part.