THUNDER BAY — Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal has ruled that an employer failed to provide suitable alternative work for a staff member who suffered an injury on the job.
The WSIAT held a hearing in Thunder Bay in December 2018, and its ruling was recently made public.
The case goes back to 2014 when the food service industry worker suffered a slip-and-fall accident that required hip surgery which left her with a shortened leg, mobility issues and pain.
In 2016, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board granted a Non-Economic Loss Award of six per cent, however her Loss of Economic Benefits award was later terminated after she turned down her employer's offer of additional hours in a second job as a convenience store clerk.
She had returned part-time to the food sector job because her employer made accommodations for her there, but she felt the clerk's job was both unsuitable and unsafe.
The appeals tribunal agreed.
In its decision, it noted that it was "not in dispute" that the woman's job options were limited "as a result of the impairment and functional limitations caused by the compensable left hip fracture."
The board cited medical evidence that she was in pain, had difficulty standing, walking and carrying, used a cane, and had decreased range of motion and strength.
Among other concerns, she testified that she would have been working alone as a store clerk, a job that required lifting in order to stock shelves.
The WSIAT hearing officer determined that, under the circumstances, the woman's refusal of the job offer was reasonable.
Co-operation by an injured worker with an employer and health care providers, the officer noted, "does not require accepting an unsuitable job that could reasonably be expected to aggravate the compensable impairment" and increase pain and disability.
As a result, she declared the worker to be entitled to partial Loss of Employment benefits.
The amount and duration of the benefits must now be adjudicated by the WSIB, whose decision is also appealable.