A Massachusetts workers’ compensation reviewing board decision earlier this year looked at whether subsequent insurers should be responsible for helping to pay the benefits awarded to a roofer injured over the course of 30+ years of work. The roofer installed duct work and metal roofing since 1970. He carried aluminum weighing up to 60 pounds and kneeled often. He experienced his first knee injury in 1981 and was given workers’ compensation in that state. He underwent arthroscopic surgery and returned to work without any further injuries until 1998.
In 1998, his knee began locking and eventually “popped” while working on a roof, causing excruciating pain. A second arthroscopic surgery was needed, and he received workers’ compensation benefits for three to four months and returned to full duty work once again. No additional medical treatment was needed after his return to work for an additional 10 years. In 2008, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his left knee.
The injured employee kept working but experienced pain when he had to climb or kneel. He later described his pain as the same whether it was “climbing ladders at work or climbing stairs at home.” To relieve the pain, he received three cortisone shots to his left knee. The injured employee testified that they did not help much, and he kept working without additional treatment until three years later. Shots were tried again but eventually discontinued due to the employee’s allergy to the injections. The employee kept working until he was laid off, but he did not pursue any other work, since he had to undergo total knee replacement surgery.