Decision #109/99 - Type: Workers Compensation
An Appeal Panel hearing was held on July 13, 1999, at the request of the claimant. The Panel discussed this appeal on July 13, 1999.
Whether or not the claimant's Permanent Partial Impairment Award has been correctly established at 7.9%.
That the claimant's Permanent Partial Impairment Award has been correctly established at 7.9%.
On November 6, 1996, the worker was fixing a machine at work when his fingers became stuck in the roller. His middle, ring and little fingers of this right hand were injured. Medical attention was sought at a local hospital and a diagnosis of partial thickness degloving injury to the fourth and fifth digits of the right hand were reported.
The worker was referred to a Plastic Surgeon, who reported a degloving injury of the right little finger, palmer base, hypothenar eminence, dorsal middle phalanx and right ring finger.
Skin grafting was performed on December 16, 1996. On February 25, 1997, the worker underwent further surgery, including a multiple Z-plasty flap release of the two areas of the right little finger.
In a report dated March 31, 1997, the Plastic Surgeon reported the worker had a recurrent flexion contracture of the right little finger with a Boutonniere deformity. A third surgical procedure was carried out on December 9, 1997 when a divisional cross finger flap procedure was undertaken.
On February 9, 1999, the worker was examined by a WCB Medical Advisor, specializing in the rating of permanent impairments. The worker's range of motion of his right wrist, compared to the uninjured left was measured as were the ranges of movement of the middle, ring and little fingers.
The medical advisor utilized the three finger injury chart from the board's schedule of permanent impairments to assign a rating to the worker for his loss in range of movement with respect to his three fingers.
The resulting calculations determine the impairment ratings to be as follows:
DIP Joint 1.6% which is the value of a full amputation. The PIP Joint was rated at 1.6%. This reflects the full amputation value utilizing the three finger chart.
Lost a total of 25° in range of movement and this equated to a 0.4% rating. The PIP Joint lost 20° in range of movement and this equated to a 0.2% rating.
At the DIP Joint lost 10° in range of movement and this equated to a 0.2% rating. The PIP Joint lost 20° in range of movement and this equated to a 0.3% rating.
The total percentage impairment rating for the fingers amounted to 4.3%.
The worker also lost some range in movement from his wrist which has been attributed to tendon tethering caused by the accident. A wrist which is ankylosed or fused in a position of function merits a 12.5% rating. The worker lost 25° out of an expected 195° in range of movement for a rating of 1.6%.
Cosmetic impairment was determined to be 2%. The total impairment rating, utilizing the board’s combined value tables which are used when more than one part of the anatomy is injured, resulted in the worker being awarded a 7.9% impairment rating.
On March 10, 1999, a payment specialist advised the worker that he had been awarded a rating of 7.9% and that in accordance with Section 38(2) of the Workers Compensation Act, he was entitled to a lump sum payment of $1,070.00.
On March 16, 1999, the worker wrote to Review Office and indicated that the rating of 7.9% was not appropriate. The worker contended his right hand is very weak and he cannot perform his work as he did previously. The worked stated the company hired someone to help him move objects around and that he cannot fix machines as he used to do. The worker reported that he finds it very difficult to hold tools because of the damage to his little and ring fingers. He requested reconsideration of his case as he will suffer from this injury for the rest of his life.
In a decision dated April 1, 1999, the Review Office determined that the rating of 7.9% was correct and in accordance with the WCB’s impairment rating schedule.
On May 4, 1999, the claimant appealed the Review Office’s decision to the Appeal Commission and requested a hearing. The oral hearing was convened on July 13, 1999.
We find that the claimant's permanent partial impairment award was correctly calculated in accordance with the rating schedule that has been adopted by the Board of Directors of the WCB. The claimant indicated to the Panel that because of his injury he was no longer able to grasp and hold things securely with his injured hand. As such, he considered that his PPI should be much higher. We explained to the claimant that should his impairment affect his earning capacity in the future, then he would be entitled to apply to the WCB for further benefits and/or services. However, we could not increase the impairment rating as it had been calculated in accordance with WCB policy to which we were bound by statute to adhere.
R. W. MacNeil, Presiding Officer
A. Finkel, Commissioner
B. Malazdrewich, Commissioner
Recording Secretary, B. Miller
R. W. MacNeil - Presiding Officer
(on behalf of the panel)
Signed at Winnipeg this 5th day of August, 1999