A work-related injury is an event or any combination of events that occurs while on the job site or while engaged in an activity related to your work, and results in a physical or functional abnormality from a workplace event or occupational disease.
If your employment is covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA), then you will be unable to sue your employer directly if your injury was caused by your employer’s negligence or by another employee. The WSIA is a no-fault insurance system whereby you can still collect benefits even if you unintentionally caused your own injury, or your employer was not negligent.
Any injury, whether it results in lost work time or not, should be reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). But even if not reportable to the Board, the injury should be reported to health and safety committees, occupational health and safety organizations, or to your union office.
Many times, injuries are not apparent at the workplace such as symptoms from strained back or an illness from years of inhaling toxic chemicals or handling them. Heart attacks or cancer can sometimes be linked to your job from the environmental or other risks that you were exposed to over the years.
What is Considered Work-Related?
Work-related incidents that occur off the job site but still qualify as work-related include any activity that benefits your employer or occur while being in a place that is controlled or supervised by the employer. Examples include:
- Driving to a work site
- In a parking lot or common area controlled by the employer
- Traveling to and from work if your employer provides the transportation
- Going off-site to retrieve supplies or equipment for your employer or job
- If you regularly work at home
- Or are working at home at the request of your employer
You could also develop a psychological injury that has developed because of chronic stress or traumatic mental anxiety. Harassment or extreme work stress can produce deep depression, which can also develop following a physical injury due to changes in your life where you find yourself unable to enjoy certain activities any longer. In some cases, these non-physical conditions may not be accepted as legitimate or work-related and your claim for benefits denied. If so, you need to contact a Toronto work-related injury lawyer from Affinity Law.
Steps to Take if Injured
If you were injured at work or suspect that your heart attack, extreme anxiety, or chronic pain is the result of a work event or events over time, here are the steps to take to protect your right to benefits:
- Report the injury to your employer or human resources department
- Follow all rules set forth by your employer regarding work injuries
- Get medical attention and inform the clinic, ER, or provider to report it as work-related or as a WSIB injury
- Give a detailed account of your injury or condition to your clinic, ER or provider about how the accident happened, what time it occurred, what parts of your body were impacted, all symptoms, and why you may waited before getting medical attention
- If there are witnesses, record their contact information
- Complete a Form 6
- Maintain a journal of your medical visits, medications, symptoms, and any activities you can no longer perform or have tried to perform
- Ask your employer about modified duties
- If no modified duties are available, attempt to find other work within your physical limitations and document your efforts to find such work
Promptly complete a Functional Abilities Form
It is essential that you cooperate with the WSIB and the case manager assigned to your claim and to provide any and all information requested of you. This includes attending a health examination if requested by the WSIB or your own provider, taking the prescribed medications and attending physical therapy sessions. Stay in touch with your employer and work with him/her to find you suitable employment that is within your physical limitations and skills and restores your pre-injury earnings. If there is a transition program or return to work strategy, you must follow it. Any issues with your employer about your return to work should be reported to the WSIB or case manager.
Responsibilities of the Employer
An employer has certain responsibilities if an employee is injured on the job. The primary one is to report the injury to the WSIB if the following occurred:
- The employee had to seek health care for the work-related injury or occupational illness or injury
- The employee had to take time off from work because of the work-related injury or occupational injury or illness
- For construction-related injuries, the incident and injury must be immediately reported to an inspector at the Ministry of Labour, the union, and joint health and safety committee or its representative.
During the period of the employee’s absence, the employer must continue benefits such as regular contributions to the employee’s pension, life insurance, and health insurance for one year
Return to Work Obligations
Once the employee recovers and is able to return to work, the employer is obligated to reinstate the worker if the employer has at least 20 employees. If the worker has not worked continuously for at least one year before the time off, the employer is not obligated to reinstate the individual.
Should the job be no longer available, then another job must be offered to the employee that meets the worker’s physical ability and work skills. Re-employment and reinstatement rights last for two years from the date of injury or one year from the time the worker is able to return to work, unless the person turns 65.
It is up to the WSIB to determine when the employee may return to work. If partially able, the employer must provide a job suitable for his capacity. Should the employer be unable to provide accommodations to the worker to perform the essential tasks of the pre-injury job, then any vacant job that is similar to the pre-injury work must be offered. Any worker returning to work with a disability must be provided an accommodation to enable her to perform the essential duties of her pre-injury job.
In the construction industry, any worker who returns to work after an injury must be offered a job. This is regardless of how short a time he has been working or how many people are employed. This does not apply to administrative or office staff who must have been employed by this employer for at least one year before the injury and where there are at least 20 employees in the company or business.
Penalties for Violations
The WSIB can levy penalties on any employer who violates these obligations. Should an employee be terminated within 6-months of returning to work, the onus in on the employer to adequately demonstrate that the termination was not due to the injury or claim for benefits.
Benefits for a Work-Related Injury
For a work-related injury, you may be eligible to receive the following benefits:
- Loss of earnings
- Health care expenses
- Transportation or travel costs for medical or therapy visits
- Retirement compensation
- Work transition assessment if unable to return to your previous job or occupation
- Independent living allowance if seriously and permanently disabled
Work-Related Injuries Not Covered by the WSIB
There are many industries not part of the WSIB. These include:
- Insurance companies
- Medical doctors and chiropractors
- Trade unions
- Private daycare facilities
- Health clubs
- Travel agencies
If you are not covered and your injury was caused by your employer’s negligence or an agent of the employer, you could bring a personal injury claim directly against the employer for your lost earnings and medical expenses. Compensation for pain and suffering is limited to those injuries that are serious and permanent.
Even if you have no negligence claim against your employer, you can still seek benefits if available from:
- Sick leave or other wage loss benefit
- Short-term or long-term disability insurance
- Health care
- Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit
- Ontario Works
- Ontario Disability Support Program
Know your rights as an employee if you suffer a work-related injury. A Toronto work-related injury lawyer from Affinity Law is here to assist and represent you if your benefits are not being paid or you encounter problems regarding your benefits or return to work.
Call us today for a free consultation at (905) 738-2463.