Factory worker fails to assemble compensable claim for skin cancer
Case name: Hickam v. Caterpillar, Inc., 19 ILWCLB 156 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2011).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission held that an assembler was not entitled to benefits for her squamous cell carcinoma because she failed to prove that her condition was causally connected to her work.
What it means: In Illinois, in order to establish that workplace exposure to chemicals caused a claimant's cancer, the claimant's doctor must testify within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the claimant's chemical exposure at work caused her condition.
Summary: An assembler on a factory's paint line was exposed to paints, paint thinners, and solvents at work. She wore cotton gloves for hand protection but regularly had paint on her hands when she finished her shift. She developed squamous cell carcinoma in her left index and right middle fingers. She spent a total of 21 months in the "paint booth" at work, and was diagnosed more than two years after she stopped working in the booth. The arbitrator denied benefits, finding that she did not establish a compensable accident or a causal relationship between the cancer and the claimant's work. The commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator.
The arbitrator found the assembler had several risk factors unrelated to her employment, including a 25-year history of smoking, fair skin with moderate skin damage, and past work as a hairdresser with exposure to hair dye. Also, her treating doctor could not testify within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that her chemical exposure at work caused her skin cancer.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
December 5, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications