Understanding WSIB: Disablements

Welcome back to our series on understanding workers’ compensation claims in Ontario. Today, we’re looking at disablements. (You can find a list of the previously-covered topics in this series at the end of this post.)

What is a Disablement?

Disablements are types of injuries that differ from accident-related injuries in that they have gradual onset and that they do not necessarily arise from one specific incident. 

Under WSIB’s policies, a disablement can be “a condition that emerges gradually over time” or “an unexpected result of working duties.”

The Office of the Worker Adviser notes that “Often, these types of injuries are a result of doing the same thing over and over again. For example, you might develop pain in your arms or shoulders over several hours or days working on an assembly line.”

Many people suffer work-related disablements and they can happen in any industry or job.  Strenuous or heavy duties may or may not be involved. Some common types of disablements are repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and vibration disease (also known as white finger disease). Another type of disablement is tinnitus, which may develop in workers that are continuously exposed to hazardous noise levels. (We’ll be covering noise-induced hearing loss in a future post.)

What’s the Deadline to Make a Disablement Claim?

Because the condition came on gradually, it may be hard to say when it began. WSIB’s policies say that claims for disablements must be started within six months of the date that the worker reported it as work-related to their employer, health professional, or WSIB. 

The WSIB can grant extensions to this 6-month rule if the worker can show there were “exceptional circumstances”. Those include compelling personal circumstances, ability to understand the deadline and consequences of not meeting it, and whether they reported their condition at all to their employer, co-workers, or doctor. Find more details on this in WSIB policy 15-01-03.

Things can quickly become complicated when trying to determine whether the condition was reported within the 6-month window and whether the claim is eligible. In fact, any WSIB claim can quickly become overwhelming. If you’re in this situation, we encourage you to seek legal assistance. Get in touch with us for a free, no-obligation consultation.


See our previous posts in this series here: