Sep 062020
 

WorkSafe2: Follow-up investigation into the management of complex workers compensation claims

https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/our-impact/investigation-reports/worksafe2-follow-up-investigation-into-the-management-of-complex-workers-compensation-claims/

FROM OMBUDSMAN AUSTRALIA WORKSAFE2 – Follow up Investigation. From the evidence in this report, it would appear that my 2016 investigation only scratched the surface. New issues were also identified in the files we reviewed, and confirmed in interviews, including the use of surveillance without adequate justification. Such an invasion of people’s privacy is only permitted if there is some evidence of worker dishonesty, but we found numerous examples of surveillance being used without a shred of evidence to justify it. Take the case of Sophia, an aged care worker, who had injured her back at work. The agent used surveillance to check her mobility. Even though the surveillance report confirmed she walked with a limp throughout, the agent considered extending it. The surveillance must have been intrusive, as Sophia asked the agent if they were doing it. Even more troublingly, the agent denied it and told her if she had concerns about being followed she should go to the police. We also saw significant evidence of unfair return to work practices: many requiring a worker to attend occupational rehabilitation in wholly unsuitable circumstances, such as the man experiencing severe psychotic hallucinations, or the homeless man in hospital after attempting self-harm, and whose non-compliance notice was sent to the residential address he had been obliged to leave despite knowing he was homeless. “For the injured worker, it’s like a court. They’re traumatised, they’re stressed … they’re the only person in the room not paid to be there …” Conciliation Officer The workers affected in the cases we reviewed included nurses, teachers, police officers, aged care and childcare workers, truck drivers, baggage handlers and tradesmen. The emotional toll was unequivocal; the cost not only to them and their families, but to society, should not be underestimated. Many of the decisions and actions we saw were not only unjust, unreasonable and wrong. Some were downright immoral and unethical.

Aug 212020
 

Next Tuesday, John McKinnon, IWC, will be leading the session on Injured Workers turning 65, regarding loss of income and poverty.  John is a lawyer at Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic with decades of experience in Workers’ Comp Law.

We will also look at ONIWG’s Workers Comp Is a Right campaign, which is celebrating its 3rd anniversary in September.  We continue to fight for an end to deeming and pre-existing health conditions and the need to listen to treating physicians.  

The Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group (TB&DIWSG) is pleased to announce their partnership with the United Steelworkers Family and Community Education Fund (FCEF) in coordination with Northwestern Ontario Steelworkers Area Council in the sponsorship of our weekly legal education and support group sessions online until December 1st.

Please note that we will be setting up a new session so the sign-in info will change, beginning September 1st.

Everyone is invited to attend.   We hope to see you on Tuesday.   Janet PatersonPresidentThunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG)  Janet Paterson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic: My MeetingTime: Aug 25, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Tue, until Aug 25, 2020, 1 occurrence(s)        Aug 25, 2020 10:00 AMPlease download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.

Weekly: https://zoom.us/meeting/tJUtcOGtqT4qEtWRydDXztXwePqG7HTw6Dqi/ics?icsToken=98tyKuCprjwiH9OQsBGGRowcAo_CWe_wtiVfj7dqrgbhJxhJdjvhM9JTFeVXJM-G Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/91078575081?pwd=cm5nRVRQMEcvNU9PWmgzQXBGY0toZz09 Meeting ID: 910 7857 5081Passcode: 279030One tap mobile+16473744685,,91078575081#,,,,,,0#,,279030# Canada+16475580588,,91078575081#,,,,,,0#,,279030# Canada Dial by your location        +1 647 374 4685 Canada        +1 647 558 0588 Canada        +1 778 907 2071 Canada        +1 204 272 7920 Canada        +1 438 809 7799 Canada        +1 587 328 1099 CanadaMeeting ID: 910 7857 5081Passcode: 279030Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acURTh2YZu

Aug 162020
 

WorkSafe2: Follow-up investigation into the management of complex workers compensation claims

OMBUDSMAN AUSTRALIA WORKSAFE2 – Follow up Investigation.From the evidence in this report, it would appear that my 2016 investigation only scratched the surface. New issues were also identified in the files we reviewed, and confirmed in interviews, including the use of surveillance without adequate justification. Such an invasion of people’s privacy is only permitted if there is some evidence of worker dishonesty, but we found numerous examples of surveillance being used without a shred of evidence to justify it. Take the case of Sophia, an aged care worker, who had injured her back at work. The agent used surveillance to check her mobility. Even though the surveillance report confirmed she walked with a limp throughout, the agent considered extending it. The surveillance must have been intrusive, as Sophia asked the agent if they were doing it. Even more troublingly, the agent denied it and told her if she had concerns about being followed she should go to the police.We also saw significant evidence of unfair return to work practices: many requiring a worker to attend occupational rehabilitation in wholly unsuitable circumstances, such as the man experiencing severe psychotic hallucinations, or the homeless man in hospital after attempting self-harm, and whose non-compliance notice was sent to the residential address he had been obliged to leave despite knowing he was homeless.“For the injured worker, it’s like a court. They’re traumatised, they’re stressed … they’re the only person in the room not paid to be there …”Conciliation OfficerThe workers affected in the cases we reviewed included nurses, teachers, police officers, aged care and childcare workers, truck drivers, baggage handlers and tradesmen. The emotional toll was unequivocal; the cost not only to them and their families, but to society, should not be underestimated. Many of the decisions and actions we saw were not only unjust, unreasonable and wrong. Some were downright immoral and unethical.

https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/our-impact/investigation-reports/worksafe2-follow-up-investigation-into-the-management-of-complex-workers-compensation-claims/

Apr 072020
 

To download and read the OFL letter to the government on Worker’s Compensation for COVID-19, click here.

To download and read the OFL proposal to the Ontario government regarding COVID-19 details, click here.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/04/06/province-urged-to-make-workers-compensation-automatic-for-essential-employees-diagnosed-with-covid-19.html

Province urged to make workers’ compensation automatic for essential employees diagnosed with COVID-19

By Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth Reporter

Worker advocates are urging the province to change worker compensation laws to make it easier for health-care and other essential workers infected with COVID-19 to access benefits, according to a new letter seen by the Star.

It comes as the provincial workers’ compensation board has received some 450 benefit claims from workers who believe they contracted the virus on the job over the past month, the Star has learned. The board has also received some 200 reports from employers of potential workplace exposures to COVID-19.

The letter, sent Friday to Premier Doug Ford and Ontario’s ministers of labour and health, outlines “vital” proposals needed to protect the province’s essential workers, including “thousands of vulnerable non-unionized workers performing essential services.”

“These workers are risking their health and for some, their lives, by carrying out their work responsibilities,” says the letter from Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates, and signed by 26 unions, legal clinics and injured-worker advocates.

“To do this, they must be confident that if they become sick from COVID-19 or must be isolated due to occupational exposure to this virus, they will have the full protection of the workers’ compensation system.”

Ontario workers are entitled to benefits and income replacement if their workplace played a significant role in their accident or illness. In most cases if a worker gets sick or hurt on the job, they must prove to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board that it was work-related to be eligible for benefits, including income replacement.

But in light of the pandemic, advocates are urging the government to legislate automatic entitlement to workers’ compensation for essential workers diagnosed with COVID-19.

The proposed changes would create a so-called non-rebuttable presumption that the virus was contracted on the job, the letter says. Current laws encode this presumption for a select list of diseases where there is a high degree of scientific certainty that the illness was caused by workplace exposure.

The letter calls for the new measure to cover health-care workers, first responders and other essential workers who come into contact with the public, such as those in child care, transit, retail and delivery.

“Cabinet could make these changes in a few days if it wished to do so,” the letter says.

In an emailed statement, Bradley Metlin, spokesperson for Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton, said government had “taken decisive action to support workers,” including job-protected leaves, beefing up inspections and doubling the number of phone agents at the ministry’s health and safety call centre.

“Minister McNaughton has been on the phone every day with labour leaders, businesses and, most importantly, workers. Their advice has been essential in our effort to keep workers safe during this difficult time,” the statement said.

“The premier has been clear that every option is on the table, and our government is prepared to take further action as required.”

As it stands, the WSIB is making decisions on COVID-19 claims on a case-by-case basis.

“We have great concerns with that policy,” said Janet Paterson, president of the Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups.

“(Essential workers) should be able to feel confident that they are going to be taken care of.”

WSIB spokesperson Christine Arnott said the board has created a “dedicated team working through COVID-19-related claims as quickly as possible.

“We know this is a difficult time for people. We have moved quickly to deliver services remotely, including managing active claims, processing new claims and answering phones. We will do everything we can to help so people can focus on their loved ones and always on their health and safety,” she said.

Advocates are also calling for workers’ compensation coverage to extend to “independent operators” or self-employed workers — like those in the gig economy — who may not be covered.

Some gig employers, such as food-delivery service Foodora, do pay into the workers’ compensation system. But the letter sent Friday notes that “many workers who may put themselves at risk by contact with the public do not have workers’ compensation protection, either because they work in a non-covered sector of the economy or have been treated as independent operators.”

“Finally, we need to protect community volunteers who step up to help others and become ill or need to be isolated,” the letter adds. (Recently, the province enacted new emergency measures that allow hospitals to override collective agreements to draft in volunteer help).

Access to workers’ compensation benefits — which are funded by employer premiums — could provide an alternate support system to employment insurance and government-funded emergency benefits, which have been inundated with applications.

According to its policy document on COVID-19, the WSIB is making entitlement decisions based on factors like whether the nature of the work puts people at risk of contact with the virus, as well as whether workers have personal protective gear — a mounting concern given existing shortages.

Jessica Ponting, a community legal worker with the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario, said the board also needs to provide other assurances to injured workers amidst the pandemic.

Most at risk, she said, are those who were already off work because of a severe injury and may now be facing layoff.

“The board is basically presuming it’s a temporary layoff. That’s a problem because when people do start to get hired back, I think there’s a lot of discrimination against people with disabilities,” she said.

“The board needs to assume at least for now that it’s a permanent layoff,” she added.                                                                                                 

That would allow for a continuation of benefits for injured workers who may have enough work hours to qualify for employment insurance.

The WSIB recently announced a $1.9-billion relief package for businesses that will allow them to defer premium payments until August.

Paterson said she wants to see similar relief programs for injured workers — including an end to the practice known as deeming, which is when the board deems an injured worker capable of returning to work, identifies jobs they could theoretically do, and slashes their benefits accordingly.

“We realize businesses are very much getting impacted,” Paterson said.

“But injured workers are supposed to be the number one focus of the workers’ compensation system. And we feel like, where are we?”

Sep 282019
 

By Gerald

Over the course of my 30 years involving workers compensation specific to the “Act”, WCB Policies, WCB Regulations, Federal Human Rights Commission, Provincial  Human Rights Commission Services Canada (CPP disability), Civil litigation, Family Law, Criminal Law, Charter, Judicial Reviews, one of the biggest problems within the workers compensation system is translation of the WCA and WCB Policies.

Most work related injuries involve pain. Most workers recover from their injuries and pain is no longer a factor, however for many workers pain does not go away and becomes chronic without any discernible organic reason. Non discernible chronic pain is compensable which is confusing for Case Managers, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission who are not doctors or lawyers specializing in workers compensation and are thus totally unaware that the Supreme Court of Canada determined that chronic pain must be recognized and compensation be provided as it is for any other physical or mental injury.

WCB Policy 03-01 Part II Application 7 is a two part policy specific to chronic pain and chronic pain syndrome which at first blush seems to provide only medical treatment for chronic pain which is obviously illegal but provides compensation for chronic pain syndrome which would then include compensation (medical treatment, loss of earnings and vocational rehabilitation). Many workers are under the false impression that if they want full compensation, they must be diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome to receive full compensation which is not true as chronic pain in itself is totally compensable and supported by the SCC specific to the Martin/Laseur case based on Section 15.1 of the Charter. In Alberta discrimination is under the jurisdiction of the Alberta Human Rights Commission and a complaint can be filed against WCB under the protected category of “disability” and the area of discrimination would be “services”

According to decisions made by the Appeals Commission when translating Policy 03-01 Part II Application 7, the Appeals Commission most likely because of inexperience and ignorance which is a common trait have not considered that the SCC has determined that chronic pain is “totally” compensable, not just providing medical treatment. WCB and the Appeals Commission incorrectly assume that entitlement of a worker diagnosed with chronic pain consists of medical treatment only without any compensation of an earning loss or vocational rehabilitation which is not in compliance with Section 15.1 of the Charter or Alberta Human Rights Act. A study by Noonan and Wagner determined that Alberta was one of the provinces that had not complied with legal precedence (SCC) and have continued to provide only medical treatment for chronic pain but no compensation for an earning loss or vocational rehabilitation which is illegal. The question is “why has the Appeals Commission not addressed the issue of non compliance as a quasi-judicial body to ensure that all workers are treated equally” leaving workers with no  alternative but to file a complaint with the AHRC who have the authority and jurisdiction to hear the complaint. WCB and the Appeals Commission incorrectly believe that because Section 6 (a) of the WCA provides the WCB BoD to determine policy which if interpreted correctly, policy must comply with the “Act”, the Charter and Human Rights legislation.

The Alberta Government was aware that WCB did not provide full compensation for chronic pain other than medical treatment and along with WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission covered this up rather than enacting chronic pain regulations as was done by the Nova Scotia Government who in order to comply with the Supreme Court of Canada decision specific to chronic pain in the Martin/Laseur case enacted their chronic pain regulations which provided full compensation for chronic pain and not simply medical treatment as was and is the only part of a full compensation package provided by the Alberta WCB which workers are entitled to. The importance of receiving a PCI rating for chronic pain  which WCB does not provide is that without a PCI rating a worker is not entitled to a disability pension prior to Jan, 1, 1995 as WCB illegally has equated a PCI rating to a disability rating and after Jan 1, 1995, without a PCI rating a worker is not eligible for a NELP.

Of course chronic pain is only one of the many human rights complaints that WCB is guilty of but workers do not understand that at any time they have been treated differently from some one else and can prove it on a prima facie basis, they can file a human rights complaint which at present under a new Director and Commissioner is being taken more seriously than before under the old regime.

Jul 292019
 

Dear Mr. Copping;

Congratulations on your election win and selection as labor minister by Mr. Kenny. From your biography I see that you have impressive credentials as the new labor minister. Better yet, some of your studies were from Osgoode Hall where I assume you must have met Dr. Terence Ison who is acknowledged as Canada’s foremost expert on administrative law as it pertains to workers compensation. 

We have a perplexing problem in Alberta that has been around for decades and that is who has the burden of proof both for and against in the workers compensation system. According to Dr. Ison neither the worker or the employer has any burden of proof. Dr. Ison suggests that in the workers compensation system in Canada, the “Board” is the only one who has the burden of proof, both for and against in what he refers to as an Inquiry system. This was noted by Justice Bruce Millar of the Alberta Court of Queens Bench when I was involved in a Judicial Review which resulted in the Appeals Commission and WCB Legal Counsel being advised by Justice Millar that my client under an Inquiry system had no burden of proof whatsoever, yet both WCB and the Appeals Commission persist in placing the burden of proof on workers. It is rare that an employer ever appeals any decision and rarely if ever attends an in person appeals hearing when WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission assume the role of the employer to contradict a worker who is left on their own to argue their claim.

If you click on the following link; https://www.wcb.mb.ca/sites/default/files/2016%20backgrounder.pdf, scroll down to Part V of the Manitoba workers compensation system where it states:

V Principles of Adjudication Inquiry Model 

The WCB operates on an inquiry model, which means that the WCB must either prove or disprove a claim through investigation. It is not the responsibility of the worker to prove the claim, nor is it the responsibility of the employer to help prove or disprove a claim. There is no formal or legal burden of proof on any party but the WCB. The WCB is responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient information on which to base a decision. Workers, employers, and health-care providers are required to report to the WCB. The WCB then undertakes whatever additional inquiries are necessary to determine eligibility and compensation entitlement. 

Click on the following link:
https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1620&context=ohlj   Scroll down to page 814 third paragraph where Dr. Ison states:

With regard to the burden of proof, workers’ compensation in Canada has always been different from common law proceedings. Our systems were established to work on an enquiry model, not an adversarial model. There is no burden of proof on anyone except the board. Since workers’ compensation was not to be adversarial, a rule was required for situations in which the evidence for and against employment causation is judged to be evenly balanced. In that situation, a common law regime would require that the claim be denied; but a more benevolent view was taken in workers’ compensation. It has commonly been provided that, where the evidence relating to the disputed probabilities is judged to be evenly balanced, the matter should be decided in favour of the claimant.

In Albertathe burden of proof is put on the worker which is typical of an adversarial system which was never the intention of Meredith specifically because workers do not have the resources or financial ability to pay medical costs, legal costs to fight WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission. Workers also do not by statute have the right to investigate, do not have the same powers as a the Court of queens Bench as does WCB, they also do not have any powers of investigation as does WCB under the Public Inquiries Act. 

My question to you is the same question I have asked previous Ministers in charge of the WCB. Who has the burden of proof in the workers compensation system in Alberta or is Alberta the only province in Canada that adjudication of claims is based on an adversarial system. 

It seems no one wants to answer this very simple question which after one hundred years, the people adjudicating claims should know whether Alberta operates on a strict civil law standard where workers are regarded as plaintiffs rather than claimants. I would appreciate a response although I don’t expect you or any one else would have the intestinal fortitude to upset the sacred cow.  

Adding to this is that we have laws in Canada and in the province of Alberta which we as citizens are expected to obey. That being the case why is it that WCB and the Appeals Commission are not held to that standard and if they are not, then why should any one obey the law. Our courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada find that WCB and the Appeals Commission are not in compliance with the law and WCB and the Appeals Commission continue to ignore the law and if they are sued, claim an honest mistake. When is the Alberta Government going to either fix the system to comply with the Meredith Principles or simply get rid of the whole system and the scumbags that are placed in positions where they are allowed to abuse workers and their families. By the way I am not an injured worker, have never filed a claim but I would be amiss if I did not assist and care for the less fortunate in our society which is more than the Government can say as in my opinion, the Government does not give a rat’s ass as to what happens to injured and disabled workers.

  • Gerry Miller
Mar 272019
 

Note from Gerald: I have been privileged to attend a number of webinars with Judge Langham as a very informed guest and attended by numerous doctors and lawyers, all experts in the workers compensation system. Most agree that the grand bargain is no longer a bargain for workers and has not been for quite some time. Several years ago I referred to to the workers compensation systems as being an antiquated system that does not work in the modern world and this verifies what I said years ago. The people we elect for public office are not visionaries that can envision a modern day approach to how the system should work for the benefit of workers and employers. Obviously the biggest problem with the antiquated system is determining causation. When workers compensation was forced onto workers by Government without any checks or balances, compensation was specific to acute injuries which had an obvious causal relation as opposed to hundreds or thousands of diagnosed work related injuries, disease and mental illnesses in the modern world that are denied based on unqualified doctors who provide false and misleading medical opinions that are reviewed by unqualified adjudicators who determine whose medical opinion is more compelling.

Workers compensation has to be the worst disability insurance that a worker would ever be exposed to. This is a system that destroys families, causes suicides.I have yet to talk to any worker that has not said that if they believed if they could get away with it, they would kill the people that ruined their lives. A modern day system would completely eliminate causation and provide disability insurance without establishing a cause being that no one can ascertain what risk factors are present in the work environment. I have yet to review a claim where it did not involve 15-20 doctors or more with none of them being experts as causation is determined by science not by guessing the cause. Unfortunately even medical science is wrong more times than they are right. 

Judge Langham is bang on that our politicians have created a two tier system where firefighters are treated differently than other occupations without any evidence to support that firefighters are any more at risk for cancers and heart attacks than any other occupation. Epidemiological studies determining risk was based on reference to the general population which according to the National Academy of Science is not a valid reference. If an epidemiological study were to take any occupational group and reference that occupational group to the general population many occupational groups would have a much higher risk factor than firefighters for cancer or heart attacks. Assembly line workers for example who perform repetitive high force work have 10 times the risk as a firefighter specific to musculoskeletal disorders, yet there is no legislation providing presumptive status to assembly line workers for musculoskeletal disorders. A recent study has determined that driving heavy machinery such as tractors, combines, large trucks results in vibration that causes back injuries, yet there is no presumptive status for truckers, farm workers for back injuries. Studies have also determined that heavy manual work over the years contributes to degenerative disc disease and yet DDD is not presumed to be contributed to by years of heavy manual work. Farm workers who use pesticides, herbicides and insecticides on a regular basis have a much higher risk than fire fighters especially now that Roundup has been determined to be a dangerous carcinogen. It is about time that our politicians brought in a system that protects workers and stops punishing them for injuries or diseases that they had no control over. 

The modern system I would envision would be a system that would guarantee acceptance of a claim by not including causation which would reduce costs by at least 50% or more especially the medical component that would reduce or totally eliminate doctors who do not have a doctor patient relationship, have no duty of care, have no responsibility for their medical opinion, can be subpoenaed but never are and cannot be sued for providing false and misleading medical opinions.

Source: https://www.workerscompensation.com/news_read.php?id=32030

Workers’ compensation cancer presumptions are not new. This blog has addressed the topic some with Cancer Presumptions for Firefighters (2014), Firefighters Seek to Change Cancer(2016), and Cancer Presumption in Australia (2016).

There is a bill introduced to bring a cancer compensation process to Florida. Senate Bill 426(“SB426”) would define “cancer” to include the specific maladies of “Bladder cancer, Brain cancer, Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, Colon cancer, Esophageal cancer, Invasive skin cancer, Kidney cancer, Large intestinal cancer, Lung cancer, Malignant melanoma, Mesothelioma, Multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Oral cavity and pharynx cancer, Ovarian cancer, Prostate cancer, Rectal cancer, Stomach cancer, Testicular cancer, (and) Thyroid cancer.”There are those who are referring to this as a “cancer presumption,” but that may not be an accurate description. This bill does not interact with Florida workers’ compensation, but is instead “an alternative to pursuing workers’ compensation benefits under chapter 440.” It is available if a firefighter (or former firefighter for up to 10 years) is diagnosed with cancer and

“has been employed by his or her employer for at least 5 continuous years, has not used tobacco products for at least the preceding 5 years, and has not been employed in any other position in the preceding 5 years which is proven to create a higher risk for any cancer.”

This is not an entirely new subject. Several states have workers’ compensation firefighter cancer presumption laws. According to Pennsylvania Judge David Torrey, thirty-three states have addressed firefighter cancer in some way.Meanwhile, officials in Ontario, Canada are analyzing work cancer claims in a more holistic and inclusive manner. The “director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario” has undertaken to study “workplace-related cancer for the Ministry of Labour.” TheRecord.com suggests that cancer claims are “a contentious issue today.” It notes that more “than a century ago” workers compensation laws were enacted, and their effect is a prohibition on employee lawsuits against their employers.The Research Centre Director contends that workers’ compensation was not designed for the modern world. He claims that it is structured based upon knowledge founded “in an era long before occupational disease was understood.” Therefore, he advocates that workers’ compensation needs to “to adapt to the hazards” to which people are exposed at work. He opines that the various jurisdictions’ systems have not evolved in parallel with medical science.TheRecord.com sees an example of this in “former rubber workers.” It notes that some of these have unsuccessfully sought workers’ compensation benefits “for cancer and other diseases,” only to suffer “long delays, road blocks and frustration.” The Director contends that compensation for such disease “should not be an adversarial situation.” Instead, compensation “should be a right to people.” TheRecord.com says that the research the Director is performing will be used by province officials to reconsider rubber workers’ claims for occupational disease between 2002 and 2017.In some cases, the evidence around specific workplace carcinogens isn’t new at all, but the compensation system has still struggled to adequately respond to the problems it causes for workers, he said. He contends that “our knowledge of what causes cancer at work improves every year,” and that this body of evidence to which he refers might be used to support claims for cancer or other occupational disease.The Director “believes the majority of occupational diseases are never reported.” Despite that, the story says that in an eleven year period, the province workers’ compensation system “allowed about 125,000 occupational disease claims which totaled more than $950 million in benefit costs.” Thus, almost a billion dollars (presumably Canadian dollars, which would convert to about $717 billion U.S.). But TheRecord says “that’s just scratching the surface of the problem.”The publication and the Director seem to be advocating for physician education in order that such allegedly work-related conditions are diagnosed as being work-related. Secondarily, there seems to be advocacy of a claims process that is geared toward compensating more such claims after they are “assessed based on the latest science.” There is no description provided of what this science is, however. Perhaps that will all become more clear after the next year of the Canadian study. A recent Canada British Columbia news story draws comparisons between firefighters and other employees.In the mean time, Florida will not be alone in a legislative discussion of cancer this year. WorkCompCentral reported recently that Montana is considering a sweeping presumption bill for firefighters. It reportedly “lists a dozen conditions that would be presumed compensable when diagnosed after a specific period of employment.” This bill also addresses cardiovascular disease.The same day, WorkCompCentral reported that Maryland is considering a bill to expand its firefighter cancer presumption. This would “add bladder, kidney or renal cell cancer to the list of diseases presumed to be compensable for firefighters.” The article notes Maryland presumptions already “include throat and lung (cancer) because of the smoke conditions.”And, Texas is reportedly considering legislation to clarify its firefighter presumption law. WorkCompCentral reports that the law is considered “murky.” According to the story, “insurers say (the law) limits firefighters to just three types of malignancies, but fire workers say already includes most types of cancer.” Employees are seeking better enforcement of compensability decisions, and employers are seeking clarity of the law’s scope.Recently, a California jury awarded $29 million to a woman for cancer it related to the use of baby powder. The American Cancer Society notes that some talcum powder contains asbestos, and warns that inhaling asbestos-laced powder can cause cancer. Its’ website is more circumspect regarding talcum powder and cancer: “The evidence about asbestos-free talc is less clear.” Thus, there seems some potential for debate regarding this causative link.The Environmental Protection Agency has recently banned the sale of Methylene Chloride, according to WebMD. It notes that this chemical compound can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, and “over the long term it increases the risk of cancer.” Despite those warnings, the EPA ban only affects consumer purchasing. The chemical will still be obtainable for commercial applications. It is estimated that some “32,000 workers use methylene chloride at work. New Jersey attorney Jon Gelman has addressed this substance in his blog.Back in California, The Telegraph reports Bayer (which purchased Monsanto in 2015) was found responsible by a jury that concluded “glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” Notably, the plaintiff had “sprayed the herbicide on his property for decades.” According to the Chicago Tribune, there is disagreement about glyphosphate. On one hand “Monsanto says studies have established that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is safe,” and “many government regulators have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate.”

The manufacturer claims that “hundreds of studies have established that the chemical is safe.” However, the jury concluded otherwise, finding “using Roundup was a significant factor in his cancer.” The recent trial there was in federal court, suggesting that the science that was presented by both plaintiff and defense was subject to the Daubert standard discussed in Dissing DaubertDaubert Better Explained, and Daubert, We Barely Knew Ye.Thus, there are questions about what does and does not cause cancer, causation issues. There may be issues as to how long after some exposure cancer will appear, latency issues. There may be occupations in which exposure to various chemicals and compounds is more or less likely. There may be variables such as the degree of exposure, intensity of exposure, use of safety equipment, and more. In total, there may be more questions about cancer than answers.The legislative efforts seem focused only upon firefighters, and yet a great many questions appear unanswered. Is there justification in tiered recovery systems that treat some workers differently than others? Is there recent science, as suggested by the Ontario Director, that antiquates existing workers’ compensation decision making? If so, where is that science? So many questions.