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Maryland WC Question

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  • Maryland WC Question

    Question about a WC Claim - have an ee who is claiming that the air quality is giving her asthma and respiratory problems - have moved her out of her office and had hepa air filtration units installed, air quality testing done by an Enviromental Inspectors and HVAC Engineers look into the HVAC system. Nothing whatsoever has shown out of the ordinary that could be causing any adverse effects. She is a smoker. Yesterday told us the doctor told her she has lost 30% of lung function and said it is because of air quality here in her office. I told her she must file a WC claim if that is what she feels it is due to. Am I doing all that I should?

  • #2
    Definitely, yes. You did everything you should have done and then some. If she wants to pursue this as a WC claim, that's her right but if she does, be sure to give your WC carrier all the background info you're provided here, the air testing data you have, and let them know she's a smoker. I'm having difficulting imagining that your employee and her doctor will be able to medically substantiate that her lung problem is do to her work environment.

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    • #3
      Thanks so much!

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      • #4
        I usually side with the EE but not in this case. Offer to pay for a course of Chantix so she can stop smoking. If she refuses to quit smoking to see if that clears up the problem she doesn't have a case. I'm an asthmatic, have studied this ad nauseum, and your defense would be that she's an asthmatic and she smokes and that is what is causing her problems....

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        • #5
          This would be filed under WC as an occupational disease. The thing here is that in MD, the OD must be caused by the work environment, not just exaccerbated by it or affected by it. Proving that a smoker's lung disease was caused by work is not going to fly is not going to happen, even in front of the most liberal of the Commissioners.

          Here is how I've handled these (and I have 2 right now). Document when she began complaining about her symptoms. Document what tests were done on the room including the results. If MOSH has done an inspection, be sure to include their report. Document how often she smokes while at work and if you know how long she has been a smoker, that as well. Make sure you convey all of this information to their carrier and if appropriate, their legal counsel.

          You will need an IME that addresses causal relation. Your carrier should handle this. PM me if you have questions.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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          • #6
            Thanks, Ellen.

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