To transfer or not to transfer costs

Dear Blue Collar,

A truck driver under our employ witnessed a fatality on a job site. Late last year, after arriving at his destination, our driver released the straps on a load of lumber. Upon doing so, the cargo somehow slid off the trailer and subsequently crushed a spotter employed by the prime contractor. Multiple witnesses confirmed that our driver repeatedly instructed the deceased — an inexperienced young man — to maintain a safe distance from the unstable load.

Afterwards, the prime contractor pleaded with us to accept the fatality on our WCB. At the time, this contractor was our bread and butter, so against our better judgement, we obliged our top customer. Slowly but surely this same contractor stopped engaging our services, and we’re now left with a fatality on our experience rating, plus an ongoing PTSD claim for said driver. Our premiums are way north of $500K/yr, an expense that will probably end us. Any insights are appreciated.

(A) Offloading incidents are rarely a straightforward matter as multiple parties often share in the liability — a fact that complicates a finding of fault. Further complicating matters is that subcontractors often find themselves on the horns of a dilemma; accept fault for an accident or lose a customer. It’s an awful yet highly common predicament.

That said, given that you’ve been dumped by the customer, I’d suggest initiating a request for review while you’re still able. You have one year from the day of the decision to request, in writing, an internal review by DRDRB. As per WCB policy:

“Section 95(2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act allows WCB to transfer costs of a claim to another employer if it can be shown another employer or their workers were negligent in the cause of an accident. If the accident was a result of a combination of people and events, the costs can be shared accordingly (i.e., transferred to multiple employers).”

Once WCB is satisfied that it’s received all pertinent information, they will render a decision and both parties will be notified in writing of the result.

Good luck.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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About Me

Ben Barfett, Principal and Consultant, has spent his life in the construction sector, specifically heavy civil, enviro, commercial, and energy. Having held senior roles in business development, technical advisory, and regional management, he earned his stripes in the field and in head office. Conscious of the interplay between commercial, legal, and execution aspects of construction, his business insights are informed by expertise in WCB policy and enhanced with disability-specific training. 

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Blue Collar Consulting

Blue Collar Consulting is a WCB and disability management firm. The company specializes in rapid and affordable disability solutions that advance current claims, contain the cost of future claims, and get injured workers back on their feet. 

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