A chief cook of TSM Shipping Phils., Inc. who fainted while in-flight to Poland and who was found to have a Vasovagal syncope was granted a disability benefit after he appealed his claim to the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC).
On October 25, 2018, the seaman was on board the flight from Doha to Poland for deployment when he suddenly fainted. The plane had an emergency landing in Romania to bring the seaman to the Bucharest Emergency University Hospital, where he was confined for five (5) days. He was repatriated to the Philippines and referred to the Marine Medical Services for further evaluation and management.
In November 2018, he was diagnosed to have suffered from Vasovagal Syncope.
When the seafarer filed an Employees’ Compensation (EC) sickness claim in the SSS branch, it was denied on the ground that Vasovagal Syncope is not on the List of Occupational and Work-Related Diseases. When he requested that the denial of the SSS-branch office be reviewed by the SSS-main office, the SSS sustained the denial of the claim due to the absence of a causal relationship between the seafarer’s illness and the nature of his work.
On appeal, the ECC decided to award disability benefits to the seafarer.
The Commission noted that the seafarer was on his place of deployment when the incident happened. Hence, the physical risk appurtenant to air travel is within the purview of his employment and was clearly reasonably necessary.
Further, the POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Seafarers, prescribe that employment shall commence upon actual departure of the seafarer from the Philippine airport or seaport in the point of hire. It is on this premise that despite the fact that the seafarer was not yet performing his actual duties, his employment was already considered commenced from the time he left the Philippines and was already en route to his place of assignment.
I. Yumang – REU7