Nurse Will Get Workers Comp for Allergy to Floor Wax that Caused her to Leave Job
At her previous job, a nurse developed asthma and other serious respiratory symptoms that required her to be hospitalized for treatment, and eventually leave her job. Although she is now in another nursing position, a Pennsylvania appellate court ruled that she deserves workers comp benefits for the time she had to take off to recover.
Plaintiff Nancy Little worked at the Select Specialty Hospital and, in April 2010, began experiencing breathing difficulties. Her first trip to the emergency room cleared up her symptoms and she returned to work a few days later. However, the following month, she began experiencing more breathing problems, and noticed some of the housekeeping employees waxing the facility’s floors. She tied her symptoms to a potential allergy, but she still had to go to the emergency room for treatment again, and this time was not able to return to work for three weeks. Finally, in August 2010, she experienced another bout of breathing difficulty, and did not return to her job at Select Specialty Hospital due to allergy concerns.
In October 2010, Little sought workers comp for the three weeks she missed due to breathing difficulties, which she said were caused directly by her work environment, and for the time she was unemployed. However, her employer denied her claim.
In November 2010, Little took a part-time job at Altoona Hospital, and explained to the new facility that she left her job at Select Specialty Hospital because of her severe allergy to the floor wax they used. Altoona changed their floor wax to a different combination, and Little has not suffered any breathing issues since then.
Testimony from Little herself, as well as a toxicologist, led a Pennsylvania workers comp judge to rule in Little’s favor in 2012, stating that the evidence suggested Little had developed disabling occupational asthma due to a chemical in the floor wax. The judge also awarded her partial disability benefits from November 2010 to February 2011, when an evaluating physician determined that Little had recovered from her asthma attacks.
Although the workers comp ruling was a partial win for Little, she appealed the judge’s decision, stating that she was still unable to return to work full time due to her asthma and that she should continue to receive workers comp benefits from her previous employer. The Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Appeal Board denied her appeal, but finally on Wednesday, March 25th, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court overturned the ruling because Little was able to demonstrate that the drop from full time to part time work represented a significant loss of wages for her.
A “claimant need only show the aggravation arose in the course of employment, the aggravation is related to the employment, and that the claimant cannot return to the work place because the aggravation will most probably recur,” the court’s ruling reads.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Workers Comp Appeals
If you have been injured on the job, or due to a job site specific hazard, you should file for workers compensation. However, many workers comp claims are initially denied, which can make you feel lost, fearful of financial instability. The South Carolina workers comp attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the intricacies of workers comp law in the state, and can help you through the appeals process. We offer free case evaluations, so contact us today. 803.252.4800