Occupation found unsuitable because of safety issues, payments reinstated

The worker suffered an eye injury while working as a horse groomer. When his 12-week job search program ended, the WSIB terminated payments and said he could return to his previous occupation as a horse groomer, or work as a horse trainer. The worker did find employment as a horse groomer; however, he reported to the WSIB that he was terminated on his first day because his new employer felt the job was unsafe for the worker.

The Commission’s file review revealed a significant level of impairment. After three surgeries, he remained blind in one eye, and had trouble with focus, seeing details, and balance and perception. Work restrictions on file recognized the significant impairment and the worker was receiving a 22 per cent non-economic loss (NEL) award.

The Commission spoke first with a work transition (WT) manager to inquire whether the WSIB had considered all medical information in the claim file when it determined a suitable occupation (SO). The WT manager maintained that horse groomer was still a SO. The Commission then asked an assistant director how the worker had been approved to return to his pre-injury occupation given his health and vision issues.

The assistant director reviewed the claim file and acknowledged there were “gaps in the process” for assessing the SO. He instructed the WT specialist to reconsider the SO and provide WT services for the worker.

Because of the Commission’s inquiries and the WSIB’s subsequent action, the worker’s payments were reinstated, retroactive to the date his job search program ended.