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What Qualifies as a Workers’ Compensation Injury?

Mar 23, 2022 | Business

Most employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance, a safety-net coverage for any injury caused directly or indirectly by an employee’s assigned duties. This ensures that employers have an easy route to take responsibility for the way their jobs shape lives and livelihoods, and the impact that workplace injuries can have on employee lives.

To receive workers’ compensation for your injury, your employer must carry the insurance, you must file the injury within the statute of limitations for your state and, of course, your injury must qualify as a workplace injury.

What Is a Workplace Injury?

The term workplace injury is defined broadly for the sake of workers’ comp. Responsibility tends to lean on the side of the employer, meaning any injury sustained during your shift, on work grounds, in the performance of your duties, or as the result of your long-term work conditions may qualify as a workers’ compensation injury. However, there are also a few specific exclusions to eligibility.

What Is Not a Workplace Injury

  • Self-Inflicted Injuries – The employee was trying to cause harm to themselves or others
  • Fighting and Horseplay Injuries – The injuries were sustained as a result of willful misconduct. This must include some form of shoving or physical horseplay – a jovial manner is not a disqualifier.
  • Criminal Result Injuries – The injuries were sustained while trying to commit a crime, while intoxicated, or while previously violating company policies. 
  • On Break and Off-Premises – If not clocked in and off employer property doing your own tasks, the injury does not mean work-related.

Provided that your injury happened during work, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation. Let’s take a look at specific types of workplace injuries and a few useful examples for each.

Injured on the Job

  • A serious cut while on your shift
  • Trip and fall during work hours
  • Eye injury at your work station
  • Falling from a broken chair

Any time you are injured during your shift and doing or adjacent to your work duties, the injury is work-related. If you get a cut from a kitchen knife or a mail cart, report the injury immediately and prepare for a workers comp claim. Trip-and-fall injuries are among the most common workers comp claims and happen all the time on the job. If something flies into your eye and it becomes an injury, this counts. If you sit in a broken chair or lean on a broken handrail then fall, this is is also work-related. In fact, if you fall out of a perfectly good chair, it may still qualify for workers’ compensation.

Injured on Work Property

  • Trip and fall on the stairs
  • Slipped on ice in the parking lot
  • Cut on a jagged piece of metal

You don’t have to be clocked in for a work-related injury. Falling in the parking lot or down the stairs is a common work injury and qualifies if it occurs on the employer’s property. If you encounter a dangerous edge, a slick patch of ice, or burn your hand on the break room stove – as long as you are on employer property and going about normal activities, the injury will likely qualify as work-related.

Injured in the Performance of Work Duties

  • Trip and fall while surveying a property
  • Car accident while visiting a client
  • Exposed to harmful materials inspecting equipment

A workers’ compensation injury can occur off-premises performing work duties as well. If you are sent on errands for the company and are injured en route, this is a workplace injury because you were injured doing work – whether or not you were clocked in or at the office. If you visit properties or clients, injuries performing these duties would be included. Harmful exposure while performing work duties is another form of worker compensation injury.

Illness Resulting From Work Conditions

  • Organ damage from poison exposure at work
  • Migraines from chemical exposure or poor workplace lighting
  • Poisoning from an uncleanly break room

Often the most controversial and tough-to-spot workers’ compensation claims are those based on an illness caused by work conditions. Let’s say you have worked with harmful or strong chemicals without proper safety equipment – or even with safety equipment. If you develop a rare disease, organ failure, or migraines as a result of the chemical exposure, these may all be filed as workers’ compensation injuries. 

Long-Term Condition as the Result of Work Duties or Environment

  • Repetitive motion injury from operating machinery
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from fine motor control tasks

Finally, repeated years of doing the same job can result in long-term conditions like repetitive motion injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. Both are acknowledged forms of long-term damage that a job can do to your body in the form of an injury. If you have sustained a long-term injury as the result of your work, file your report and claim as soon as the doctor confirms your diagnosis.


Workers’ compensation is there to help you when you have a work related injury. For more information about Workers’ Compensation Boards in Canada visit the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.

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