First responders, emergency workers, and law enforcement officers put their lives on the line and their bodies in harm's way on an almost daily basis. As a result, people in these lines of work are frequently subject to injuries on the job. Although most injuries are easy to identify, such as trauma to the body or illnesses acquired on the job, a different type of workplace injury is beginning to gain recognition in British Columbia.
In 2013, a firefighter in Surrey responded to the scene of a hit-and-run accident. The event left the firefighter shaken and traumatized. Though an official diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was not made, it was clear to his family that the man was never quite the same afterwards. In 2015, he committed suicide.
Eventually, a case was presented to WorkSafeBC to persuade the organization that the man's death was related to work. After nine months of deliberation, the Workers Compensation Board ruled that his death occurred in the line of duty. The ruling will enable his widow to receive a survivor's benefit of over $3,000 each month. It may also open the door for similar cases to move forward in the future, and for PTSD to be treated as a medical condition suffered on the job.
Firefighters and other emergency personnel face situations beyond what most people could even imagine. The stress eventually takes it toll on some, making it difficult or impossible to continue working. Recognizing PTSD as a workplace injury in British Columbia opens up opportunities for compensation and treatment. Any worker who feels he or she has suffered any form of injury while at work may wish to talk with an lawyer to assess his or her case.
Source: National Post, "B.C. firefighter responded to an accident and never recovered; his suicide has been ruled death in the line of duty", Kent Spencer, March 6, 2017