On July 1, 2012 the B.C. legislature passed Bill 14 which amends section 5.1 of the Workers Compensation Act, changing coverage for mental disorders caused by work.
Claims may be accepted where the worker’s mental disorder:
• is a reaction to one or more traumatic events arising out of and in the course of employment, or;
• is caused by a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors.
The worker’s mental disorder must be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist (previously a physician’s diagnosis was sufficient) and be one of the conditions described in the most recent American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Claims cannot be accepted if the criteria above are not met, or if the worker’s mental disorder is caused by the employer relating to the worker’s employment, such as changing the work to be performed or the working conditions, or discipline or termination.
WorkSafeBC is developing:
• a discussion paper;
• draft occupational health and safety policies on workplace bullying and harassment;
• a centralized, Richmond-based team to adjudicate and manage mental disorder claims that are received following the legislative changes;
• a safety prevention tool kit for employers and workers to assist workers and employers in understanding, preventing and addressing bullying and harassment in the workplace.
While these things are being developed, the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations dealing with workplace conduct and workplace violence are being enforced.
For more information about creating and maintaining safety and healthy workplaces, contact the Prevention Information Line, at 604 276-3100 or toll-free within Canada at 1 888 621-SAFE (7233)
WorkSafeBC staff is meeting with various employer and union groups to discuss these changes and will hold information sessions in Vancouver and Victoria.
If you would like to view a recording of any session please email Belinda.Becker@WorkSafeBC.com.
Submitted by Ilona Klimczak
Coast Eagle Consulting Inc.