Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 498 18
M. Crystal
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (cardiac conditions) (unusual physical exertion)
  • Heart attack
  • Presumptions (entitlement)

The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for the worker's fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

The 57-year-old worker was a roads operator. He had been operating a snow plow on January 3, 2014. He was found in the employer's yard between the snow plow and the salt shed. It appeared that he had shovelled a few wheelbarrows of gravel.
Board policy allows entitlement for a heart condition in the case of unusual physical exertion for the individual with no significant delay in the onset of symptoms. The Vice-Chair found that shovelling a few wheelbarrows of gravel did not amount to unusual physical exertion. Evidence indicated that the worker had been performing routine roads work duties on the day in question. There was no suggestion that it was unusual for the worker to be performing this type of work. There was also evidence that the worker was a physically active person who bicycled and refereed hockey. The Vice-Chair concluded that the worker did not meet the requirements of Board policy.
The accident occurred in the course of employment. The presumption in s. 13(2) of the WSIA applied that the accident also arose out of employment unless the contrary is shown. It is settled law that there is only one standard of proof in civil law and that is the balance of probabilities. Thus, the same standard applies when rebutting the presumption as in other issues of entitlement.
The worker had a number of significant risk factors, specifically atherosclerotic heart disease combined with chronic bronchitis, age, family history of cardiac disease and a past smoking history. There was no evidence of excessive physical exertion at work. The Vice-Chair concluded that the presumption was rebutted.
The appeal was dismissed.