The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) has recently granted EC disability claim to a former miner from Pangasinan due to his work-related back injury.
For almost twenty-three years, the miner held several positions in a mining company in Benguet, Mountain Province.
He initially sought for medical consultation due to multiple joint pains. In a computerized tomography (CT) Scan Report in 2019, he was found to be suffering from degenerative lumbar spondylosis.
An EC disability claim was filed at the Social Security System (SSS) Baguio Branch, but the same was denied for not being work-related. The SSS Baguio said that Spondylosis is an aging phenomenon. With age, the bones and ligaments in the spine wear, leading to bone spurs thus making the disease not compensable under the Employees’ Compensation Program.
The claim was elevated for review to the SSS main office which likewise denied the claim on the same ground.
On appeal, the ECC ruled in favor of the miner.
The Commission said that the miner’s job description for almost three decades in a mining plant undoubtedly caused his illness. He was exposed to high levels of whole-body vibration, repetitive motions, lifting, and performing other manual handling. Thus, the Commission ruled that there is a casual relationship between the appellant’s claimed ailments and his work.
The ECC quoted the pronouncement of the Supreme court that probability, not certainty, is the touchstone in EC claims. It is not required that the employment be the sole factor in the growth, development or acceleration of a claimant’s illness to entitle him to the benefits provided for. It is enough that his employment contributed, even if to a small degree, to the development of the disease.
The miner now stands to receive disability benefits, and all other benefits under the EC Program.
According to ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis, the ECC is here to assist and grant benefits to workers who suffered from work-related contingencies but it is still more important that the employee prioritize their safety and health while doing their day to day activities.
The ECC is a government corporation attached to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for policy coordination and guidance.
M. Basal – REU8