Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, Sulphur Dioxide and Particulates Exposure (Smelter Workers)

Policy

Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD) in smelter workers is accepted as an occupational disease under sections 1(1)(n) and 122 of the Workers' Compensation Actas peculiar to and characteristic of exposure to Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and particulates.

Guidelines

Acceptance of a claim is dependent on objective medical evidence of COLD and impaired pulmonary function.

A diagnosis of primary bronchiectasis, chronic upper respiratory disease, or primary asthma without the presence of COLD is not considered an acceptable basis to claim under this policy.

Entitlement criteria

Based on medical studies, claims for COLD with impairment shall be favourably considered when all of the following circumstances apply.

Nature of exposure

A clear and adequate history of exposure to any smelting process involving the production of sulphur dioxide and particulates as a significant by-product of the process must be established. This includes roasting, smelting, converting of metallic ores, and the secondary production of sulphuric acid.

Intensity of exposure

Sulphur dioxide exposure is established when levels of more than 5 parts per million (5 p.p.m.) are recorded repeatedly over the exposure period.

Duration of exposure

A minimum of 20 years established exposure.

Inception period (latency)

A minimum of 20 years from the date of first exposure to the date of diagnosis.

Cessation interval

Where the cessation of risk is less than 5 years to the development of clinically disabling COLD, the presumption of Sulphur Dioxide effect applies.

Information required

In order to adjudicate a claim, the following forms must be completed and submitted

Pulmonary function studies must be obtained from the treating agencies.

Where there is medical compatibility between the disability and exposure, and all entitlement criteria are met, the claim is allowable.

Benefits

Date of disability prior To April 1, 1985

If the date of disability is prior to April 1, 1985, and the worker was employed in the exposure employment at the time the diagnosis was made (or an earlier date if approved by the WSIB's Occupational Medical Consultant), O.D.D., earnings for the year immediately prior to the date of diagnosis are used.

Date of disability from April 1, 1985 to January 2, 1990

The nominal rate is used if the date of disability is on or after April 1, 1985.

Comparable earnings

If the worker is no longer employed in the exposure employment, comparable earnings [section 122(6) in the 1980 Workers' Compensation Act for a worker doing the same job for the same employer, for the year immediately prior to the date of diagnosis are used.

Temporary total disability

In the absence of a permanent disability award under s.45(1), and temporary total disability benefits under s.40(1) of the 1980 Workers' Compensation Act are not payable for periods of acute pulmonary disease except during

  • the definitive medical investigation in order to confirm the diagnosis, or
  • active treatment for the disease itself.

Temporary total disability benefits may be paid in established claims for permanent disability. Subject to appropriate medical evaluation, payment will be made for periods of disability due to acute lower respiratory illness.

Temporary partial difference

If the worker is requested to change employment, which is medically authorized and approved by the WSIB's Occupational Medical Consultant, OD&SBP, entitlement exists for payment if there is a wage loss

  • The temporary total disability wage basis is compared with the worker's present wage
  • Payment is granted until no difference exists, or a pension is awarded.

Permanent disability

Smoking history is taken into consideration when establishing the percentage relationship to permanent disability (P.D.). The percentage of disability accepted by the WSIB is

Smoking history Percentage of assessed permanent disability award accepted by the WSIB
Non-Smoker 40%
Ex-Smoker 30%
Smoker 20%

 

NOTE

The temporary total disability basis is used to establish the permanent disability basis.

Dependency benefits

In the case of death, the decision maker determines whether the cause of death was Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease.

Second injury and enhancement fund

Second Injury and Enhancement Fund (S.I.E.F.) relief is considered at the time of the permanent disability rating. The percentage transferred to S.I.E.F. is based on the proportionate percentage established for the permanent disability award.

Proportionate disability shall apply for permanent disability awards with no cost transfer to the S.I.E.F.

Full benefits may be paid under sections 40(1) and 36 of the 1980 Workers' Compensation Act, when they apply, with a cost transfer to S.I.E.F. based on the proportionate percentage established for the permanent disability award.

Example

If the permanent disability is rated at 20%, then 80% of the temporary total disability benefits and health care benefits for the period will be transferred.

Similarly, 80% of benefits granted under section 36 will be transferred.

Definitions

Non-smoker -- A person who has never smoked, even occasionally.

Ex-smoker -- A person who has smoked, but who has not smoked for the past 10 or more years.

Smoker -- A person who currently smokes, or who has ceased smoking for less than the previous 10 years.

Application date

This policy applies to all accidents before January 2, 1990. Benefits are payable from the date of accident, which is the date of diagnosis, or the first date that related symptoms are medically documented, whichever is earlier.

Document History

This document replaces 04-04-17.

References

Legislative Authority

Workers' Compensation Act, R.S.O. 1980, as amended

Sections 1(1)(n), 122

Minute

Board of Directors
#8(XXVII), June 10, 2004, Page 6621