Skill testing question:
Which of the following would NOT be considered a traumatic incident by WCB standards?
A) Being a victim of robbery in the workplace
B) Witnessing the death of a co-worker
C) Providing aid to victims of severe physical trauma
D) Discovering a fruit fly in your tomato bisque
E) Any of the above could give rise to a claim
If you answered D, you made a valiant attempt. But in fact, the correct answer is E. Choice D was the correct answer in 2017, but by virtue of Bill 30’s passage, choice D could satisfy legislative criteria for claim acceptance. In the past, WCB referred to Mustapha v Culligan Ltd. to define the parameters of a traumatic incident. Mustapha, the plaintiff, developed major depressive disorder after seeing a dead fly inside an unopened water bottle. He sued for resultant psychiatric harm. But the presiding judge ruled that no reasonable person would suffer mental harm due to this relatively minor incident.
Following the Mustapha verdict, WCB adopted a similarly stringent test for defining trauma. Flash forward a decade however, and WCB now takes a much broader view. Employers beware, as excessive workload, witnessing a social injustice, or even a feud with a co-worker can constitute grounds for a costly claim.