Home Featured 911 dispatcher’s claim of workplace-related PTSD upheld after employer appeals Alberta WCB ruling

911 dispatcher’s claim of workplace-related PTSD upheld after employer appeals Alberta WCB ruling

by HR Law Canada

A 911 dispatcher’s claim of workplace-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been upheld by the Appeals Commission for Alberta Workers’ Compensation.

The case centered on a dispute where the employer contested the acceptance of the worker’s psychological injury claim by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). The employer argued that the injury stemmed from non-occupational factors, specifically a personal phone call the worker received, which they claimed was the primary cause of the PTSD.

The worker, an emergency dispatcher, had been diagnosed with PTSD following a series of traumatic experiences at work, including a distressing 911 call received on July 6, 2006. Despite these experiences, the employer maintained that the worker’s inability to dissociate and cope with work-related stressors was due to personal factors rather than her employment.

The Appeals Commission, after reviewing the submissions from both parties and the relevant legislation and policy, concluded that the worker’s diagnosis of PTSD was indeed a compensable injury. The Commission found that the worker’s role as an emergency dispatcher and the cumulative exposure to traumatic 911 calls were significant contributing factors to her condition.

This conclusion was supported by medical evidence and the application of WCB Policy 03-01, Part II, Application 6, which guides the acceptance of psychological injuries.

The Commission’s decision highlighted the complex nature of psychological injuries, acknowledging that while multiple factors can contribute to such conditions, work exposure must be considered a necessary factor for the injury to be compensable. The ruling emphasized that the presence of non-compensable causes does not negate the impact of work-related factors.

In their conclusion, the Appeals Commission firmly stated that the weight of evidence did not prove that the injury did not arise out of or occur in the course of employment. As a result, the criteria under section 24.2(2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act were met, applying the PTSD presumption in favor of the worker.

The decision reaffirmed the Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body’s earlier confirmation of the WCB’s decision and dismissed the employer’s appeal. This landmark ruling underscores the recognition of psychological injuries in the workplace and the need for supportive measures for workers facing mental health challenges.

For more information, see Decision No.: 2023-0531, 2023 CanLII 113738 (AB WCAC)

You may also like

About Us

HR Law Canada is dedicated to covering labour and employment news for lawyers, HR professionals and employers. Published by North Wall Media.