ECC grants benefits to veteran miner’s spinal arthritis claim
The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) granted EC disability benefits to a miner who acquired spinal arthritis in the course of his 28 year employment with a mining company in Itogon, Benguet.
Veteran miner Rodolfo Espinoza, 55 years old, had been an employee of a mining firm from 1986 to 2014. The nature of his work entailed him to install, lift and move heavy objects and materials underground.
In December 2014, Espinoza sought medical consultation at the Saint Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart in Baguio City and was diagnosed to have spinal arthritis, hypertension and productive cough. The diagnosis also noted that the 2nd and 3rd digits of his left hand had been amputated and had a history of Empyema, a complication of a lung infection.
Espinoza filed an EC claim on April 23, 2015 for said ailments before the SSS Baguio branch, but the claim was denied on the ground of no causal relationship.
In September 2016, the SSS Main Office sustained the denial of its branch office and stated that Espinoza’s spinal condition was degenerative as his age progressed and there was no impairment of function of body organs pertaining to his ailments.
Upon review, the ECC concluded that Espinoza’s spinal arthritis was caused by the nature of his work. The Commission granted him EC disability benefits plus reimbursement of medical expenses for his succeeding consultations due to his musculoskeletal disorders.
However, the ECC denied his claim for hypertension and amputation of 2nd and 3rd digits of the left finger on the ground of no causal relationship. ECC records also revealed that Espinoza was already granted maximum EC Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits in 2012 for his Empyema and the current diagnosis did not reveal any progression of the said disease, thus the denial of granting EC benefits.
The ECC recognized the fact that Espinoza’s working conditions as a miner involved tiresome manual labor. The ECC also took into account the number of decades he has worked for the firm, which contributed to his ailment. The use of various mechanical tools and equipment in confined spaces entailed him to do repetitive motions over long periods of time and have caused trauma and strain on his spine.
The ECC is fully aware that there are multiple causes of work related injuries or sicknesses. Factors like working environment, ergonomics, the duration of work and other significant factors that contribute to the wellbeing of workers. The mining environment itself is very dangerous and the ECC is encouraging the mining sector to take all the necessary safety measures to protect their employees from such conditions.
The ECC is constantly pushing for compliance and effective implementation of occupational safety and health (OSH) policies because it can reduce the likelihood of work –related accidents and sicknesses in high risk environments such as the mining industry.
ECC extends miner’s disability benefits for back injury
The Employees’ Compensation Commission granted additional EC benefit to a miner in the province of Benguet.
Victor Amgasen, 48 years old and a resident of Itogon, Benguet, has been employed as Plant Mechanic of Philex Mining Corporation.
On March 4, 2013, Amgasen experienced severe pain on his back after lifting a heavy timber at his work-place. He was admitted at the Hospital of the Sacred Heart, Baguio City, due to low-back pain. During examination, it was noted that his low-back pain was aggravated by movement and could not be relieved by resting or by sitting.
On March 11, 2013, Amgasen was discharged from the said hospital with diagnosis of Acute Low Back Pain due to Recurrence of the Intervertebral Disc Herniation. He was advised to wear back support brace and desist from lifting and carrying of heavy objects. For his injury, Amgasen was granted EC Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits for a total of 81 days effective March 2013.
However, Amgasen filed a claim for additional disability benefits at the Social Security System (SSS) Baguio City Branch. He was subjected to physical examination and it was noted that there was no limitation on the range of motion of the Lumbar area. On March 11, 2016, the SSS denied his claim on the ground of no progression on illness. On appeal, the ECC decided to award him with additional EC disability benefits in accordance with the EC Schedule of Compensation on Spine.
Medical records show that Amgasen’s condition of the spine due to Spondylosis should have been classified as permanent partial disability under the EC Schedule of Compensation on Spine. Thus, the ECC awarded Amgasen with additional 15 months of permanent partial disability benefits.
ECC awards additional benefits to seaman
The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) ruled in favor of the claim of a seaman by granting additional EC disability benefits for his work-connected back injury.
Ronaldo Gamboa, 46 years old and a resident of Pasig City, was employed as Seaman-Fitter of Gateway Crewing Services, Inc., Ermita, Manila.
In June 2014, Gamboa experienced low-back pain after lifting heavy objects while onboard a vessel. On July 5, 2014, he was repatriated to the Philippines due to his medical condition. He underwent a series of medical examinations and was diagnosed with Lumbar Spondylosis. He filed a claim and was granted EC Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits for eight (8) months effective February 2015.
On October 8, 2015, Gamboa filed a claim for additional EC disability benefits at the Social Security System (SSS). He was subjected to physical examination and it was noted that he has minimal loss of bending power. The SSS denied the claim on the ground of no progression of illness.
On appeal, the ECC decided to award additional permanent partial disability benefits to Gamboa. The Commission’s decision was anchored on the EC Schedule of Compensation on Spine which provides that Gamboa’s condition must be provided with a maximum period of 15 months EC PPD benefits. Since, Gamboa was already provided with eight (8) months of EC PPD benefits, thus, he is still entitled to additional seven (7) months to complete the maximum period of 15 months of EC PPD benefits.