Home Featured Alberta lab worker, denied workers’ comp after developing long COVID, has claim sent back for review on appeal

Alberta lab worker, denied workers’ comp after developing long COVID, has claim sent back for review on appeal

by HR Law Canada

An Alberta lab worker who was diagnosed with long COVID and has suffered ongoing health issues has had his workers’ compensation claim sent back for review after he appealed a ruling that denied him benefits.

Though he did not having a primary diagnosis for COVID-19 initially, the worker — a laboratory safety and university biosafety specialist — developed conditions consistent with long COVID-19 syndrome.

Despite initial claims and subsequent denials by the Workers’ Compensation Board, the Appeals Commission has pointed out a lack of thorough investigation into the worker’s claims, particularly concerning the nature of his employment and the exposure to the infectious disease purportedly contracted at his workplace.

The worker initially reported his condition to the WCB on July 22, 2022, leading to a formal claim. This was followed by a series of interactions and appeals, culminating in the Appeals Commission reviewing the case. Despite the worker’s efforts to link his condition to his employment, the WCB denied the claim, prompting further appeals.

“The panel has determined we have insufficient information to decide the appeal issue,” stated the Appeals Commission, highlighting the complexities of adjudicating COVID-19 related compensation claims.

The decision directs the WCB to undertake a more detailed investigation and adjudication process, addressing the shortcomings in the initial examination of the worker’s claims.

Key concerns raised include the failure to properly investigate the worker’s employment conditions, potential exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, and the subsequent development of long COVID-19 syndrome.

The decision underlines the necessity of a comprehensive inquiry into the specifics of the worker’s situation, including interviews with coworkers and the collection of relevant medical evidence.

“The panels accepts that the worker contracted an infectious disease in 2022 and that he has been diagnosed with Long COVID syndrome,” it said.

“However, for all the foregoing reasons, the panel finds there has been insufficient investigation regarding whether the nature of the worker’s employment involved sufficient exposure to this infectious disease including whether his employment caused the infection or created an increased risk of exposure.”

The Appeals Commission has instructed the WCB to resolve these investigative gaps to make an informed decision on the worker’s claim.

The case sheds light on the challenges faced by workers and employers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly concerning compensation for long-term health effects.

For more information, see Decision No.: 2024-0004, 2024 CanLII 23780 (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.