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June 23 2009

What WorkSafeBC Does to Workers Everyday

"The injured worker must go through the WorkSafe system, there is no alternative.  We must rely on the honesty, purpose, and standards of this system, to deliver a future. . . . WorkSafeBC can, and does abuse people and their rights, with great impunity."

A lifestyle that no one would want

I AM at age 57 what is termed by the federal and provincial governments to be disabled.

This is a term employed to identify anyone who is no longer able to work or function within the normal realm of society.

This does not imply that we are no longer functional as people just that we are no longer able to meet the criteria of  functional in the normal sense of society.

I can only presume that this means we have become less normal, which may be a blessing, or we no longer have the distinction of being part of the herd, which is our reality.

I had hoped that this did not mean we are to be culled from the herd but that unfortunately is the reality of being labelled as disabled.

The daily life of a person with disabilities is a life that is entirely of their own making based upon the adjustments that they can make to survive in  the world of the able bodied.

The reality of life is that the disabled person must chose to live up to the level of life they decree or the level of life that is deemed their worth by the government of the day. 

It is not a lifestyle that is made by choice rather a life that is imposed by the level of adjustment that our community allows to be deemed as adequate for our survival make no mistake the disabled are judged to be entitled to at best a life of adequate best rather than a life of possibility and potential as are the rest of society.

The human body is a triumph of evolution.  Mankind has evolved into a species that unlike any other, has the ability to inflict mental pain and emotions of love.  The mind however, is still a project that is in its infancy.  The most vulnerable part of our species is the mind.

A severely injured person automatically seeks to evolve to a state of comfort. We perceive that our actions will result in improved comfort.

But here is the WorkSafeBC (the new name for the Workers’ Compensation Board)  Theory of Evolution.

“ A injured worker’s first concern is healing, followed by returning to the workplace, getting on with life.

A disabled worker’s first concern is to face the reality of the situation, make a mental decision to go on or stop, and then commit the will to win. The next hurdle is to try to understand what the future will hold. People proceed through their working lives with preset notions of what the system will do to protect their future.  The reality and the perceived are as different as life and death. 

The injured worker must go through the WorkSafe system, there is no alternative.  We must rely on the honesty, purpose, and standards of this system, to deliver a future.

The questions that present themselves are simply these:

What to do if the delivery and the results of this system are so badly flawed that death is a direct result? What are the channels available to the worker who is unable to find a livable solution to what ever future remains?

Why is the entire system based on the theme of  advocation and confrontation?  Why does yes mean no?

Some of the notable facts that irritate, intrigue, and prove out to be true, are all based on one central theme. 

The programs of WorkSafeBC, operate with total immunity from any level of public censor.

People are not allowed to sue WorkSafeBC through the court system (or so they would like us to believe).

Rulings and judgements proceed without any form of government regulation as to their implementation.

This translates into the fact that WorkSafeBC can, and does abuse people and their rights, with great impunity.

The scheduling of  reviews, their location, and the preordained results are at its total control.

The WCat review board, which in theory, is the last recourse to the disabled worker is in fact just a rubber stamp to the wishes of WorkSafeBC.

The review board is suppose to operate independently of the system, thus assuring a level of fairness. This review board is nothing more than window dressing, allowing WorkSafeBC to manipulate any situation into a result that leaves the disabled worker almost apologetic, for not having felt the magnanimous hand of the master.

A critical injury always results in some form of panic from some level of   authority.  The rule of thumb is“ protect your self first.”  this is not a warning to aid the worker, rather a commandment to the administrators of any program.

I know first hand the results of several medevac flights,  long ambulance rides, and medical staff awaiting the retrieval of a battered worker.

I was not aware of the trail of paper and ink that would come to be more a pain than my injury.  I was not aware of the travesty I had enlisted.

My injuries were physically apparent, and their treatment was assured.  That is what I took as a given in the world of medicine.  This world operated often in conflict, or denial with the rules of WorkSafeBC.

I am beyond shocked, at the level of disdain shown by staff to any report that did not concur with their pre-written judgements. I was at times deeply afraid by the arrogance of staff regarding levels of medication, lengths of treatment, and their methods of implementation.

I found that levels of narcotic drugs were determined by staff with no more medical training than my dog.

I found that all levels of progress in physical repair came with a defined time frame and sadly a stringently defined cost framework.

I found that people of all levels within WorkSafeBC determined to be the workers friend, when in fact they often instructed actions which caused the worker overwhelming levels of stress, to the point of despair!

I found a over all theme of condescension, toward workers and their families.  I found that staff would and did take many opportunities to bewilder injured workers. 

I found that there was never any recognition of the levels of pain, and medication, that injured workers were functioning with, while trying to make decisions that impacted their lives.

The writing of this paper is personally painful, and serves as a constant reminder of what WorkSafeBC did and is doing to hundreds of workers everyday.

The facts that I have indicated are one hundred per cent accurate, and I challenge WorkSafeBC or anyone in government to deny.

During the course of these last five and one half years,  my family and I have survived despite the best efforts of the agency and this government.

I am unable to say that for the  206 suicides connected to WorkSafeBC, a number confirmed by former Liberal deputy premier Christy Clark.

The tears that over whelmed me with this announcement, stain me still.

Tony Vincenzi is a writer living in Terrace.

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