In September 2017, the worker, a submitted a mental disorder claim to the Workers' Compensation Board. The worker related his mental disorder to a series of workplace incidents. He noted that the most recent incident included physical contact.  The Board denied the worker's mental disorder claim on the basis that the requirements under section 5.1 of the Workers Compensation Act (Act) had not been met.
In July 2017, he needed an empty wood scrap box for his chop saw. He found a scrap box in a corner with a small bundle of sash blanks. He placed the bundle of sash blanks on an empty flat cart near the speed sander. He then turned around to take the scrap box but the co-worker "got in his face" in an aggressive manner. The co-worker shouted that it was his cart. The co-worker grabbed the bundle of sash blanks and aggressively forced them into his hands. The co-worker then knocked the bundle of sash blanks out of his hands, pushed passed him with the cart and ran over the bundle of sash blanks with the cart.
Several days later, he was working on grids. The co-worker held up a grid that was on his work bench and shouted. He held up his hand in response because he had to finish gluing a grid. He then walked over to the co-worker's work bench to retrieve the grid but the grid had been thrown on the floor. He picked up the grid, noticed that one corner had been damaged and then returned to his work bench to repair the grid.
In August 2017 the worker went to work on the shaper machine which was near the co-worker 's work bench. He noticed a five-foot piece of wood on the floor in front of the machine. He asked the co-worker if it was his piece of wood. The co-worker said "yes" and "f*** o**." He bent down to pick up the piece of wood because it was a safety hazard. The co-worker stepped on the piece of wood so he could not pick it up. The co-worker also stood over him with his knee against his ribs so he was not able to stand up. The co-worker then bent over and picked up the piece of wood so he stood up. The co-worker looked him in the eye and in a mocking fashion said "Whoaaaa." He then mocked the co-worker in the same fashion . He also shouted at the co-worker that he was a "moron" and the co-worker shouted back that he was a "baby".
In a September 2017 employer's report of injury, the employer advised that an investigation into the worker's report of an August 31, 2017 workplace incident with a co-worker had not provided adequate proof of what happened. The employer noted that a witness had supported the co-worker 's description of the incident. The employer further advised that there had been some workplace interpersonal conflict between the worker and a co-worker over the last couple of months. but indicated that its investigation of the August 2017 workplace incident had not revealed proof that the co-worker had assaulted the worker.
Policy item C3-13.00 of the RSCM II advises that the Act requires that the mental disorder be predominantly caused by a significant work-related stressor, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker's employment.
The Employer’s representative argued that the described workplace incidents with the co-worker were normal workplace interpersonal interactions rather than traumatic events or a series of workplace stressors. The worker had not been threatened or abused by the co-worker. There was nothing emotionally shocking, unusual or distinct about the workplace incidents. The described workplace incidents also were not of an intensity or duration that would be considered excessive.
The Union, USW Local 2009, argued the Board and the Board review officer placed too much emphasis on the results of the employer’s investigation of the workplace incidents, especially the August 2017 workplace incident. A close look at the descriptions of the workplace incidents reveal a pattern of threatening behaviour on the part of the co-worker. He knocked a box out of the worker's hand. He damaged a piece of property he thought belonged to the worker. He also "yelled at" the worker and "name-called." The worker even reported feeling fearful when he was in physical proximity with the co-worker and worried that he would be physically assaulted.
The Union further argued that a reasonable person would be expected to consider the co-worker's workplace behaviours, which all took place in a short period of time, to be threatening. Those workplace incidents were not normal pressures of employment and go beyond what can be deemed to be regular interpersonal conflicts in the workplace.
In consideration of the preponderance of evidence the WCAT Vice Chair found that the July 2017 workplace incidents described by the worker were not sufficiently unusual and distinct as to rise to the level of being traumatic pursuant to the Act and Board policy. In the Vice Chair’s view, those described workplace incidents lacked an element of danger or intensity to establish that they were emotionally shocking.
The Vice Chair also decided that the August 2017 workplace incident was sufficiently unusual and distinct as to rise to the level of being traumatic pursuant to the Act and Board policy . The co-worker physically dominated the worker. He stepped on the piece of wood so the worker could not pick it up off the ground. He stood over the worker with his knee in the worker's side stopping him from rising. He then picked-up the piece of wood and held it at his side while shouting and swearing at the worker . These actions of the co-worker, when taken as a whole, created a clear and very real physical threat which was emotionally shocking and had an element of real danger. The worker feared for his safety and, after that incident , left the workplace as quickly as possible because of that fear.
The Vice Chair accepted the uncontradicted opinion evidence of the treating Psychiatrist. The psychiatrist conducted a psychological assessment and concluded that the worker has developed a DSM-5 diagnosed mental disorder, namely PTSD, caused by the workplace incidents in the summer of 2017, including the August 2017 workplace incident.
The Vice Chair concluded that the worker developed a mental disorder, specifically PTSD, arising out of and in the course of his employment, as contemplated by section 5.1 of the Act.

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