Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 2923 17
K. Iima
  • Available employment (local labour market)

A heavy equipment operator suffered a low back injury in 2008, for which the Board granted the worker a 20% NEL award. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer basing LOE benefits on deemed earnings in the SEB of retail sales.

The worker has lived in a remote community of about 1,200 people for about 35 years. His wife has had the same job in the community for 25 years. The closest town has a population of 65,000 and is 110 kilometres away. The closest city is 250 kilometres away.
According to Board policy, a SEB is defined as a category of suitable jobs that are available in the local labour market. The local labour market includes any surrounding area to which the worker might reasonably commute. In determining what is reasonable, factors include pre-injury commuting pattern, travel requirements of the SEB and the extent of functional abilities related to ability to travel.
In this case, the worker spent most of his working life as a heavy equipment operator. He attempted to find work in his local labour market by applying to gas stations and grocery stores, as well as for jobs that were not within the SEB.
The Vice-Chair found that the worker did not have a reasonable prospect of obtaining suitable employment in the local labour market. Considering that the SEB was for a direct entry occupation in which the worker was expected to earn minimum wage, it was not reasonable to expect the worker to commute for at least two and one-half hours per day or to relocate from a community where he has been living for 35 years.
The worker was entitled to full LOE benefits. The appeal was allowed.