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WorkplaceNL changes recognize on-the-job trauma

Workplace NL chief executive officer Dennis Hogan and Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh speak at a news conference at the Workplace NL offices on Forest Road in February.
Workplace NL chief executive officer Dennis Hogan and Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh speak at a news conference at the Workplace NL offices on Forest Road in February. - The Telegram

Work-related mental health issues now covered by WorkplaceNL policy

WorkplaceNL has updated its mental stress policy to acknowledge work-related mental health issues that may be caused by exposure to multiple traumatic events.

The policy will now include events that are an everyday part of an occupation, such as first responders witnessing fatalities. It recognizes that traumatic mental stress disorders can result from exposure to multiple events, and can have a cumulative effect. Prior to this, only acute reactions to a single event were considered. The examples of traumatic events were broadened.

In another change, under the previous policy, traumatic events that were part of the inherent risk of an occupation were not covered. This limitation has been removed.

The updated policy will determine whether workers who have been diagnosed with a related mental health issue, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), qualify for benefits under the workers’ compensation system. The revisions allow the policy to be applied more fairly across all occupations, including first responders, the department stated in a news release.

The spectrum of mental health issues has been expanded, but a diagnosis is required from a regulated health care professional, such as a physician, nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist.

“We recognize the mental health impacts that various careers have on individuals in our province and have updated the mental stress policy to reflect this reality,” stated Sherry Gambin-Walsh, minister responsible for WorkplaceNL.

With these changes, the policy review announced by WorkplaceNL on November 23, 2017 is complete.

WorkplaceNL has the authority to create and modify policies that are in keeping with the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act.

A longer-term review of PTSD coverage in workers’ compensation legislation is ongoing. Written submissions will be accepted up to March 30.

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