Miner gets no help in compensation fight

A man injured in a mining accident near Dawson City last year was rebuffed in his latest attempt to receive compensation.

A man injured in a mining accident near Dawson City last year was rebuffed in his latest attempt to receive compensation.

Earl Watson, who was blinded in one eye by a blast from a broken pump, lost his compensation request because he didn’t have a workplace injury report from his first doctor’s visit at the Dawson Nursing Station.

The doctor who saw Watson the day after his injury in May 2009 did not hear Watson say it was a workplace injury, says the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board in its March 31 decision to reject Watson’s claim.

Nor did the doctor record any trauma on Watson’s part in her report to the board.

Watson maintains he and the doctor had a difficult time understanding each other due to her cultural background.

He was in excruciating pain at the time of his visit, which was in the early morning following the injury the evening before.

In a letter to the Dawson Nursing Station two months ago, Watson asked if the doctor would help him clarify the situation to the board.

“This (error) may have happened because of (the doctor’s) cultural difference and language barrier,” says the letter.

“We had an extremely difficult time understanding one another.”

The doctor did not know how to use the eye-examination machine and more rigorous examinations in Whitehorse and Vancouver confirmed that some kind of eye damage took place, says Watson.

“When I attended the nursing station I was in horrendous pain, had a heat blister under my eye and on the side of my nose,” the letter says.

“So the intensity of the situation along with the urgency to medevac me to Whitehorse may have resulted in the serious omission of information regarding it being a work-related accident.”

On April 14, Watson received a response stating no help would be given.

The doctor in question has since left Dawson and the issue is the responsibility of the compensation board and not the doctor, says the response.

The board decided Watson’s degenerating eyesight was due to a previously recorded cataract and not the injury. The lack of a workplace injury report was also a factor, despite the views of experts outside of Dawson who believed Watson was injured by the blast from the broken pump.

Watson is currently considering whether to appeal the compensation’s board rejection of his claim, he says.

He remains unable to work as a welder or a mechanic due to a loss in depth perception.

Contact James Munson at