Bus drivers have the most stressful gig in town, according to WorkSafeBC figures.
Since July 1 199 transportation workers mostly bus drivers but also including cabbies have submitted claims for work-related mental disorders, including those caused by significant stressors on the job such as bullying and harassment.
A fairly common type of case we are seeing are bus drivers being submitted to insults from passengers, said senior program manager Joe Pinto.
In one case, it escalated to include threatening behaviours. [The employee] had to stop working because it turned into a disorder.
Mental Health Claims :
There were more mental health claims submitted from the health care and social services sector, with 463, but health care employs substantially more workers than transportation.
The hospitality industry came in third with 141 claims; 134 from retail, and 105 from education.
Don McLeod, head of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 111 which represents Metro Vancouver bus drivers, said there are about150 reported assaults on bus drivers every year.
As front-line employees, bus drivers often bear the brunt of passenger frustration and anger and are vulnerable to verbal abuse, getting spit on, or more violent forms of physical abuse.
“I have no doubt there are mental health issues in all workplaces, but the type of job we do has the potential to push somebody to the brink a lot quicker,” said McLeod.
WorkSafeBC is expecting the number of mental health claims to more than double after new legislation came into effect July 1.
It estimates it will receive 2,500 claims over the one-year period since the bill was passed. It used to receive only 1,100 claims annually.
Under the new law, workers who develop mental health issues because of significant workplace stress, including bullying or harassment, are now eligible for compensation.
The cases have to be a recognized mental disorder diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist; they cannot be disorders from stress caused by employer decisions, such as working conditions or workload.
Under previous legislation, workers were only eligible if their mental disorder stems from an unexpected, acute work-related traumatic events, such as firefighters or paramedics who witness horrific accidents, for example, or retail workers or bank tellers traumatized by a holdup.