Workers' Compensation A worker injured by work, or sick with a disease caused by work, might qualify for workers' compensation benefits. New Brunswick's Workers' Compensation Act explains which workers qualify, and the benefits for which workers qualify. In New Brunswick, workers' compensation is administered by the province's Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC). WHSCC decides, according to the Act, whether or not a worker receives compensation and decides what the worker gets compensation for.
What compensation can a worker with a work injury or illness receive from WHSCC? Medical aid benefits - WHSCC may pay the bills for a worker's recovery from an injury or illness. Before the worker pays up front for a medical expense, she or he can check with WHSCC to learn whether or not that medical expense can be compensated. If it can be compensated, the expense is refunded by WHSCC after the worker sends in the receipts.
Loss of earnings benefits - WHSCC may pay a worker up to 85% of her or his wages while a work injury or illness keeps the worker from returning to work.
PPI benefits - A worker receives a PPI benefit as compensation for the permanent loss of a body function after a work injury.
Survivor benefits - When a worker dies from an injury caused by work, the worker's surviving spouse or dependents can receive compensation from WHSCC.
Are all workers covered by workers' compensation? Not all workers in New Brunswick are covered. Of the 334 000 workers in the province (2001), only 285 000 workers were covered or 85%. A worker's coverage depends on whether or not the worker's employer has registered with WHSCC - not all employers have to. To learn whether or not a specific employer has workers' compensation coverage for her or his workers, a worker can phone her or his regional WHSCC office.
When a worker is injured, what should she or he do? An injured worker should get first aid and immediately report the injury to the supervisor. Next, the worker sees a doctor, letting the doctor know that the injury is a work injury. At workplaces without first aid, or if an injury requires it, the injured worker sees a doctor immediately. While the employer might recommend a doctor, the worker can go to the doctor of her or his choice.
When the injured worker meets with the doctor, the worker should tell the doctor how the injury is work-related. By giving a detailed account of the incident, the worker can give the doctor all the facts needed to complete the medical report for WCB. Information on equipment and hazardous materials might be important for the medical report as well.
To fully describe the injury, the worker can tell the doctor not only about the main injury, but about minor ones as well; for instance, a twisting of the back or bruises to other parts of the body when there's a broken arm after a fall. One work injury sometimes can lead to another injury.
After an accident, an injury may not be obvious at first, some injuries develop over time. Some occupational illnesses, like bronchitis or repetitive strain injury, also develop over time. A worker's notes on her of his minor work injuries, illnesses and accidents can be used to later trace how work may have caused or played a significant part in a more serious injury or illness.
Unions are interested in workers' accounts of accidents, injuries and illnesses in the workplace. By collecting information from workers, a union can judge whether to recommend such measures as worker training, the use of safety equipment or equipment repair in improving health and safety in the workplace.
How can a worker get compensation? If an injured or ill worker is covered by workers' compensation, she or he can get compensation if she or he was employed at the time of the injury or illness and if the worker was injured or ill while working, and injured or ill at work.
After a work accident, whether or not a worker misses time from work, the worker should report the accident to WHSCC on WHSCC's Report of Accident or Industrial Disease Form 67 (PDF).
The worker should answer the questions on the report in great detail. In particular, the events leading to the accident or injury can be reported like a story, with a beginning, middle and end, including background details and the names of any witnesses. The worker keeps a copy of the completed report for her or his own records. A friend, co worker, or family member can fill in the report with the worker.
Information on workers' compensation benefits and information on completing the Report of Accident is available from WHSCC at the toll free number 1 800 222 9775.
Also, the Workers' Advocates provides information free of charge on such topics as how WHSCC makes its benefits decisions and what an injured or ill worker can do to best explain her or his claim for benefits. Workers' Advocates are employed by the province's Department of Training and Employment Development, and are independent from WHSCC. Workers' Advocates Offices are located in the different regions of New Brunswick, and can be contacted by phone.
A unionized worker can go to her or his union for information on workers' compensation and for assistance in filling in the Report of Accident and Industrial Disease.
What should the worker do while off from work because of a work injury or illness? It is important for the worker:
- To speak with WCB before changing doctors, since changing doctors may not be permitted
- To keep in contact with the doctor or other medical professional (physical therapist, etc.), attend all medical appointments and follow all medical instruction (such as exercise programs, nutrition plans, the use of medical aids, etc.)
- To talk with the doctor about when it is safe to return to work
- To take detailed notes on conversations with health service providers
- To keep records of the names of doctors, nurses and other health service providers, health service appointments and treatments, health service providers' notes, and health expenses
- To keep all receipts for expenses related to the work injury or illness for a possible refund from WHSCC
- To take detailed notes on conversations with WHSCC workers and to keep copies of letters and information that the injured or ill worker sends to WHSCC
- To take notes on conversations with the employer, keep records of time taken off from work, and job searches
- To tell WHSCC about any plans to leave the province, even for a short stay, since WHSCC benefits might stop while an injured or ill worker is away
What can a worker do if she or he disagrees with WHSCC's decision? A worker can appeal WHSCC's decision. This means a worker can ask WHSCC to change its decision. The decision concerns whether or not the worker actually receives benefits, the type of benefits the worker receives, and the amount and length of time the worker receives benefits.
An appeal should be received by WHSCC no later than a year after WHSCC's first decision is made. The WHSCC Appeals Tribunal has instructions on making an appeal, as well as additional written and video information on appeals.
Workers' Advocates can work on an appeal with an injured or ill worker. The services of Workers' Advocates are free of charge and are independent from WHSCC and its Appeals Tribunal. Workers' Advocates Offices are located in the different regions of New Brunswick, and can be contacted by phone. A worker who is a union member can contact her or his union for information on appeals, and for assistance with making an appeal.
WORKPLACE HEALTH, SAFETY AND COMPENSATION COMMISSION 1 Portland Street
P.O. Box 160
Saint John NB E2L 3X9