Thursday, November 29, 2012

Man hurt in workplace accident recovers more than $12M

A jury awarded more than $12 million to a man who claimed that he sustained brain damage in a workplace accident. The matter dates to June 16, 2007, when Victor Munoz fell off of a ladder while painting the exterior of a Manhattan hotel. 

He sustained fractures of a shoulder, his spine and several ribs, and he contended that he also sustained a brain injury that resulted in severe impairment of his balance and damage of his hearing and vision. 

Munoz sued the hotel's owner, operator and landlords. The defendants traded blame, but Judge Joan Madden deemed that all were liable. A jury awarded $12,320,856.69 to Munoz and $700,000 for his wife's derivative loss. The judgment will be paid by Munoz's employer, which was a third party to the suit.

You can see a full report on the case here at

Friday, November 16, 2012

Can you contract Parkinson's Disease from Work?

Many workers, particularly in plants and factories, use and are exposed to solvents.  These are a broad category of substances that are present in fuels, paints, glues, lubricants and cleaning products.  There was a recent study that has shown a strong link between long term occupational exposure to the solvent trichloroephylene and parkinson's disease.  

The study examined 6 specific solvents which were chosen for investigation because of past case reports of Parkinson Disease or Parkinson-like symptoms occurring in persons with exposure to one or more of these chemicals.  Parkinson Disease is a degenerative brain disease that causes tremors, movement problems, and dementia.  

This study is just one more bit of evidence that demonstrates employers should be extra cautious in teaching their employees how to handle these chemicals and protect themself from exposure, particularly long-term exposure.  

However, the researchers on the study voiced concerns about more than occupational exposure; their concerns about far reaching public health implications was due to the fact that trichloroephylene is the most frequently reported organic contaminant in ground water and is detectable in up to 30% of U.S. drinking water.  

If you want to read more about this and the study, click here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Exposure to light at night lowers cognitive function

Over the years I have written several posts about the effects of working third shift (or night shift) on workers' health.  There is a growing body of evidence that supports the idea that employees who work third shift can suffer from a cadre of health problems that their day shift counterparts won't suffer from, merely from working at night and sleeping during the day.

I just read an article about a study from Johns Hopkins University that found that regular exposure to bright lights at night can subject you to anxiety, depression and lower cognitive from.  From the article:

Basically, what we found is that chronic exposure to bright light — even the kind of light you experience in your own living room at home or in the workplace at night if you are a shift worker — elevates levels of a certain stress hormone in the body, which results in depression and lowers cognitive function,” said Samer Hattar, a biology professor in the Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Iraq War contractor ordered to pay National Guardsmen $85M over toxic chemical exposure

Work injuries can happen in all sorts of places....from

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A jury on Friday ordered an American military contractor to pay $85 million after finding it guilty of negligence for illnesses suffered by a dozen Oregon soldiers who guarded an oilfield water plant during the Iraq War.
After a three-week trial, the jury deliberated for just two days before reaching a decision against the contractor, Kellogg Brown and Root.
Each Army National Guardsman was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and another $6.25 million in punitive damages for "reckless and outrageous indifference" to their health in the trial in U.S. District Court in Portland. 
Guardsman Rocky Bixby, the soldier whose name appeared on the suit, said the verdict should reflect a punishment for the company's neglect of U.S. soldiers.
The suit was the first concerning soldiers' exposure to a toxin at a water plant in southern Iraq. The soldiers said they suffer from respiratory ailments after their exposure to sodium dichromate, and they fear that a carcinogen the toxin contains, hexavalent chromium, could cause cancer later in life.