Modern chemistry is at the base of many technologies and unfortunately, many chemicals are harmful to the human body. Both employees and employers have to take precautions so that we can take advantage of these helpful substances without causing undue harm. Occasionally an employer doesn’t provide adequate protection. This can cause lifelong conditions.
Employers who take the risk of using chemicals harmful to human health must be prepared to pay for the medical care their employees need if they get injured or sick. Tragically, some employers use the excuse of a sick employee as a reason to fire them.
The Problem With TPI
The Des Moines Register reported on such a situation. TPI Composites is a company that manufactures the blades for wind turbines. As part of this process, a special resin is applied to the blades. This is done at the Iowa branch of their operations.
Six former employees are suing TPI for allegedly terminating their employment due to illness. These six TPI employees contracted contact dermatitis from this resin. At least two other employees are contesting denied unemployment claims for similar reasons. The suits accuse the company of instituting a “systematic practice of hiring healthy employees and then terminating them from employment after their employees sustained a chemical injury.”
Contact dermatitis is an extremely painful condition. It can appear as a rash, leathery skin, or even ulcerated skin. The skin is usually itchy at all times and extremely sensitive. One of the workers highlighted in the article can no longer wear multiple layers of clothing, must shower twice a day, and use an excessive amount of lotion to help relieve itching.
Is OSHA Doing Their Job?
These skin injuries have been repeatedly reported. According to Iowa’s division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 300 recorded cases of skin injuries have happened at this particular plant over eight years. Former employees say that they were issued paper suits as protection, but one expert has stated that the paper suits aren’t adequate protection against the resin in question.
Despite all violations, the company has yet to be punished by OSHA. The investigative reporters on the case followed up on public record filings to discover the problem. The wind turbine industry is booming in Iowa but it should not boom at the expense of worker health.
Contact dermatitis is a common occupational injury. The CDC states that 15-20% of all reported occupational diseases are due to contact dermatitis. Worse, the number of job-related contact dermatitis incidents may be far higher than reported. There are many common substances in the workplace that can cause contact dermatitis, such as latex gloves. Unfortunately, 75% of people who contract workplace contact dermatitis end up developing a chronic skin disease, similar to those suing TPI.
If you believe you have contracted an illness at your job and you feel like you weren’t issued adequate protection or were terminated due to sickness, don’t lose hope. There is a way to fight back. The Cochran Firm is here to represent you and make sure you receive the highest compensation. Contact us for a free consultation today.