Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1334 20
13/09/2022
J. Smith - D. Thomson - Z. Agnidis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Disablement (exposure)
  • Exposure
  • Initial entitlement (eligibility)

The issue before the Panel was whether the worker had entitlement to benefits for bronchiectasis resulting from occupational exposures.

The appeal was allowed.
The Panel accepted that on July 23, 2013, the worker was exposed to dust and powder when the contents of the fire extinguisher in the vehicle she was driving exploded and she inhaled the powdery agents that leaked out of the fire extinguisher. The Panel accepted the medical information included in the case materials about the likely contents of the fire extinguisher and the likely exposures which resulted in the work accident, including mono-ammonium phosphate and ammonium sulphate.
It was noted that section 15 of the WSIA provides for entitlement for disease resulting from a worker's employment. Generally, where the condition at issue appears in Schedule 3 or 4 to the Act, or is recognized by Board policy as an occupational disease, the Tribunal will determine entitlement for that condition as an occupational disease. If the condition is neither a scheduled disease nor recognized by Board policy as an occupational disease, the Tribunal will usually determine entitlement in accordance with whether there was an "accident" in the nature of a "disablement arising out of and in the course of employment", based on the evidence in the case (see Decision No. 1480/98).
Furthermore, as bronchiectasis is not a condition that is recognized under either Schedules or under Board policy as an occupational disease, this claim was determined on a disablement basis, based on the weight of the evidence before the Panel.
It was noted that while the worker's occupational exposure likely did not directly cause the development of bronchiectasis, the exposure likely caused her to develop more frequent and increasingly severe respiratory infections, which in turn, caused bronchiectasis. For the foregoing reasons, the Panel found that the worker's occupational exposure on July 23, 2013 was a significant contributing factor in the development of bronchiectasis, as the exposure resulted in an increased frequency and severity of respiratory infections, as well as pneumonia in 2013, which caused bronchiectasis.
The worker was granted entitlement for this condition. The nature and duration of benefits associated with this entitlement were remitted to the WSIB for adjudication, subject to the usual rights of appeal.