Mechanic establishes claim for aggravation of asthma, headaches
Case name: Greg Ellinger Collision, 112 NYWCLR 158 (N.Y.W.C.B., Full Board 2012).
Ruling: The New York Workers' Compensation Board held that a mechanic established the claim for the aggravation of asthma, toxic headaches, and rhinitis due to workplace exposure to paint fumes. However, he failed to establish his claim for nasal polyps.
What it means: In New York, in addressing a worker's exposure to toxic fumes, when the employer concedes that paint and the manner in which the employer uses paint emits toxic fumes, the worker does not have to identify the specific substance that allegedly caused or aggravated his conditions.
Summary: The board held that an auto body mechanic established the claim for the accidental aggravation of asthma, toxic headaches, and rhinitis due to workplace exposure to paint fumes. However, he failed to establish the claim for nasal polyps. Neither the mechanic nor the employer produced evidence regarding what type of paint was used by the employer, but the employer's son conceded that the paint and the manner in which the employer used the paint emitted toxic fumes. Therefore, the mechanic did not have to identify the specific substance which allegedly caused or aggravated his conditions. His claim was supported by testimony that the prep booth was not properly exhausted.
The board found sufficient evidence that the mechanic did not have a substantial history of other allergies or regularly displayed symptoms outside the workplace. Although he had asthma as a child, he outgrew the condition and only took medication on an as-needed basis. After being exposed to paint at work, he had to increase his medication for problems breathing. The board found the mechanic produced medical evidence that his toxic headaches, asthma, and rhinitis were aggravated by his workplace exposure to paints. However, the opinion of a treating otolaryngologist was more specific and persuasive as to the nasal polyps, and his report indicated a lack of causal relationship.
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November 29, 2012
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