- Accident (occurrence)
- Chance event
- In the course of employment (employer's premises)
- In the course of employment (personal activity)
- Injury by accident
- Presumptions (entitlement)
The issue under appeal was whether the worker had initial entitlement for a syncope episode on November 5, 2017 and a resulting concussion. The worker, a firefighter, fainted and struck his head while using the washroom at his employer's premises, 15 minutes before starting his shift at work.The appeal was allowed. OPM Document No. 15-02-01, "Definition of an Accident", describes a chance event as "an identifiable unintended event which causes an injury". A number of Tribunal decisions have held that a fall resulting in an injury, precipitated by fainting, is a chance event (see Decision No. 677/20). The Panel found that the description of fainting, falling and striking his head was consistent with OPM Document No. 15-02-01, and an accident had occurred.The Panel found that the worker was in the course of employment at the time (see OPM Document No. 15-02-02). OPM Document No. 15-03-08 "Personal activities/removing self from employment" states that an accident shall be considered to occur in the course of employment when it happens on the employer's premises, unless at the time of the accident the worker is performing an act not incidental to work. The Panel found that the worker was in the course of employment as the criteria of place, time and activity described in OPM Document No. 15-02-02 had been met. In addition, 15 minutes prior to the start of a shift was a reasonable period before starting work (see Decision No. 336/06). Tribunal decisions have generally held that workers are in the course of employment during brief breaks to use the washroom. The Panel confirmed that using the washroom is a personal activity that is reasonably incidental to employment. Given that the Panel had found that there was an accident in the nature of a chance event and that the accident occurred in the course of employment, the presumption in s.13(2) applied: "If the accident arises out of the worker's employment, it is presumed to have occurred in the course of the employment unless the contrary is shown. If it occurs in the course of the worker's employment, it is presumed to have arisen out of the employment unless the contrary is shown." The Panel concluded that the evidence established that the cause of the fainting was unknown, and that a non-work related factor was not shown to have caused the injury. Tribunal case law has held that in these circumstances, where there is no evidence regarding the cause of the syncope episode, the presumption is not rebutted, and there is entitlement for the compensable accident and the injuries flowing from it (see Decision No. 418/09).