When it comes to workplace injuries the first thing that comes to mind for most people is likely a serious accident, but this is not the only way in which a worker could be harmed on the job. In certain situations it is possible workplace conditions could lead to a worker becoming ill. A Canadian man, who worked at a mine more than 25 years ago, believes this is what happened to him.
The man suffered from spinal cord damage he believes was due to the exposure to toxic chemicals while he worked as a Treatment Recovery Plant Operator. He claims that one day after working a shift during which he was asked to clean up a spill of mercury, lead, cyanide and arsenic, he lost control of his bladder and could hardly walk. Shortly thereafter he was completely paralyzed. He said he did not have protective equipment at the time he cleaned up the spill.
Upon his arrival at a hospital he was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis. Though he was able to regain mobility via physiotherapy, all of these years later he still uses a cane to get around and has a urinary catheter.
There are multiple causes for the inflammation of white and grey matter in the spinal cord--including exposure to arsenic and other toxic chemicals--and in 1996 the man filed a claim with the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission. In reaching this decision, despite the fact that tests he underwent after the problems arose that showed he had been exposed to high amounts of arsenic, based on the commission's failure to see a link between the myelitis and the exposure to the chemicals, the claim was denied.
Over two decades later, in 2011, a doctor in Ontario determined that the exposure to the chemical "more likely than not" contributed to his medical condition. Despite it being past the window, the man recently asked that the WSCC's decision be reviewed, and that matter will be heard before a Supreme Court judge.
How this matter will be resolved is unclear. Matters involving the WSCC can be difficult to navigate. Accordingly, in matters of this nature, a lawyer can be of assistance.