Psychological injuries

Like physical trauma to your body, psychological injuries can be devastating. The Workers' Safety and Compensation Act recognizes these injuries just as it does physical injuries or illnesses. If your psychological injury is the result of a workplace event or series of events, we may be able to help you.

To find more information about psychological injuries, read our policy Adjudicating Psychological Injuries.

What is considered a work-related psychological injury?

A work-related injury--whether psychological or physical--is an injury that arises out of and in the course of employment. You can see the full definition in our policy Arising Out Of and In The Course Of Employment.

In order for a psychological injury to be considered work-related, the following criteria must be met:

  • The worker was exposed to a traumatic event or events at work; 
  • The worker’s employment was a significant causal factor of the injury; and
  • The worker has received a psychological injury diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Here are some examples of psychological injuries that may be considered work-related.

  • A teacher is regularly subjected to demeaning comments from their vice-principal, often in front of their teaching colleagues, and develops an anxiety disorder as a result.
  • A housekeeping attendant is regularly subjected to inappropriate and harassing comments from several co-workers. They attempt to confront their co-workers, but the harassment continues and in fact increases, and they develop a depression disorder as a result.
  • A paramedic is called to the scene of a fatal, multiple car accident and afterwards is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What is not considered a work-related psychological injury?

The Act does not provide benefits or services for mental stress or a psychological injury resulting from an employer’s management decisions or actions, such as termination, transfer, changes in working hours or in productivity expectations.

The Act is also unable to provide benefits or services for psychological injuries caused by normal workplace interpersonal conflict or discord, such as arguments and disagreements.

Here are examples of psychological injuries that would likely not be covered because they follow an employer’s decision or action:

  • A grocery clerk experiences anxiety after their employer changes their shift schedule.
  • A forklift driver has been seen numerous times violating company safety rules. Their employer eventually suspends them without pay for continued safety violations, and they experience stress because of the effects on their income and reputation.
  • An employer repeatedly extends an account representative's probationary contract and makes no offer of permanent employment. This causes the account representative to feel stressed and uneasy about their long-term employment prospects.
  • A warehouse employee whose work hours have been reduced due to lower demand feels anxiety about their decreased income.

Post-traumatic stress disorder presumption

The Workers' Safety and Compensation Act contains a PTSD presumption that applies to all workers who have been exposed to a traumatic event in the course of their employment.

For a claim to be presumed to be a work-related injury, the worker must be exposed to a traumatic event or events in the course of employment and have a diagnosis of PTSD by a psychologist or psychiatrist. The injury is presumed to be work-related unless the contrary is shown.