Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1581 22
S. Ryan - S. Sahay - M. Ferrari
  • Health care (psychiatric treatment)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychotraumatic disability
  • Recurrences (compensable injury)
  • Loss of earnings {LOE} (lay-off) (seasonal)
  • Suitable employment (factors other than physical capability) (commute)

The issues under appeal were: a) whether the worker had entitlement to LOE benefits from July 2, 2019 to September 14, 2019; b) whether the worker had entitlement for a recurrence of his PTSD; and c) the worker's entitlement to psychological treatment for three sessions.

The appeal was allowed, in part.
The Panel determined the worker did not have entitlement to LOE benefits for the period of July 2, 2019 to September 12, 2019, the duration of the seasonal lay-off, as his loss of earnings were unrelated to his compensable injuries and were a result of a recurring seasonal disruption. In addition, the employer provided the worker with suitable modified work in March 2019. He performed this work without difficulty until the end of the school year. However, in September 2019, he was offered modified duties at a school that was a considerable commute from his home. These duties were offered to accommodate the worker's "non-compensable" health problems including pain in his lower back and bilateral knees.
The Panel found that the worker suffered a recurrence of his PTSD as a result of the employer's offer of modified duties at a school that would require a significant, and unreasonable, increase in commuting time. The employer's expectation that the worker drive approximately two hours, one way, caused a hyperarousal of his PTSD symptoms and a significant deterioration in his emotional condition necessitating a resumption of treatment. The clinical notes also indicated that the worker's condition was at a "subthreshold" for PTSD, but he had not fully recovered. The worker was found to have entitlement for the treatment he received as a result of the recurrence.