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Employer did not discourage workers from reporting accidents to WSIB: WSIAT

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A worker who delayed reporting an alleged workplace accident has claimed that his employer discouraged employees from reporting, but the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal has rejected that claim. The decision illustrates the importance of maintaining a practice of promptly reporting accidents to the WSIB.

The worker worked with a roofing company.  He filed a claim with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board on April 3, 2008 alleging that he was injured in a slip-and-fall accident at work three months earlier.  He claimed that he had told his supervisor who “made light” of the situation and laughed about it.

Interestingly, the worker claimed that reporting of accidents and filing of WSIB claims was  discouraged in the roofing industry, and that he feared losing his job if he filed a WSIB claim.  He said that the failure of his employer to acknowledge that his injuries were work-related was the result of its general practice of discouraging reporting of workplace accidents.

The WSIB had opened an investigation into the worker’s allegations that his employer discouraged accident reporting, but the investigation was closed with no action taken.

The WSIAT decided:

“. . . I cannot conclude on a balance of probabilities that the employer discouraged employees from reporting work-related accidents.  At best, the evidence provided by the witnesses established that roofing is a physically demanding line of work and workers frequently sustain a variety of bumps, bruises, cuts and burns.  I interpret the evidence of the witnesses to suggest that workers would normally just ‘shake these injuries off’ and would not report them as WSIB matters.  . . . The employer’s witnesses were consistent in their testimony that if there was a serious enough injury, they would report it to their foreman, who would report it to the supervisor, who would report it to the owner.  The evidence fails to satisfy me, on a balance of probabilities that workers were at risk of losing their jobs if they filed a WSIB claim.”

Given the evidence of the employer’s practice of reporting accidents, and in light of the fact that the worker had not sought medical attention on the day of the alleged accident and that it was not until two months later that his physicians became aware of the alleged accident, the worker’s claim for WSIB benefits was denied.

Decision No. 2286/11, 2013 ONWSIAT 1644 (CanLII)