Mold is a feared word among building owners, employers, and landlords. As buildings age and former factories are converted to fashionable ‘condos’ and ‘new-age’ offices, lawsuits arising out of health claims of mold infestation and ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ have become common. ‘Mold’ is becoming the next ‘asbestos’. Its presence has shuttered schools, closed hospital wings, and driven employers to find alternate work sites.
Workers in aging or recently renovated building need to be sensitive to ‘breathing’ and respiratory issues that worsen when you are at work and disappear or lessen at home, on weekends, or during vacations.
Toxic mold infestation can sicken hundreds of unsuspecting employees even when building appear to be well-ventilated. Toxic mold gives off powerful mycotoxins that are dangerous to human health. It can cause allergic reactions, fungal infections, asthma, pneumonitis, toxic illnesses, and other respiratory conditions.
Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds
Substances known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) are powerful irritants associated with mold exposure. This particulate matter is released directly into by fungal organisms, often giving off strong or unpleasant odors. Exposure has been associated with symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and sinus irritation.
Some of the more common symptoms of mold exposure are nasal congestion, sinus infections, irritated eyes, scratchy throat, fever, headaches, ‘smokers’ cough, chills, and weight loss.
As an attorney who represents Chicagoland clients in Workers’ Compensation claims, I fight for victims every day to gain the benefits they deserve. With the risks posed by exposure to toxic mold, I want to offer some suggestions that will reduce the likelihood that you will suffer from such exposure at work.
Are You Exposed?
Has your health changed following a change in your work location? Are you experiencing the symptoms of mold exposure? Nasal congestion, sinus infections, irritated eyes, scratchy throat, fever, headaches, cough, chills? Toxic mold infestation can sicken hundreds of unsuspecting employees even when building appear to be well-ventilated.
Inquire About Odors.
Mold spores need moisture and a food source. It is found on wet/damp walls, carpets, ceilings, behind wallpaper, and even in ventilation and air conditioning systems. But the earthy smell is highly noticeable. If you recognize this odor, tell your supervisor. Your employer is responsible to correct uncontrolled accumulation of water and conditions that cultivating mold.
Avoid Exposure During Clean-up.
You may need to leave work during mold clean-up. Small work areas are particularly vulnerable. It is always the employer’s duty to ensure that your work area is properly ventilated and free of mold and pollutants.
Monitor After Clean-up.
The clean-up should relieve your symptoms. Monitor your health closely. If the symptoms persist, the clean-up may not have been successful.
What To Do If You’re Exposed to Mold in the Workplace.
If you suffer from symptoms of toxic mold on the job, you are entitled to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Based upon my years of experience, I can offer a 5-step guide to maximize success with your claims. I know the territory, the pitfalls, and the hurdles.
Step 1: Medical Care.
First and foremost is your health. Seek medical attention for your symptoms. Be sure to get copies of medical records regarding your exam and treatment. Being examined by a physician and following their medical advice is always first priority.
Step 2: Notify your employer.
Following your initial medical treatment, notify your employer. Do not wait. In Illinois, you have only a short time to notify your employer of the injury.
Step 3: Document the situation.
Being exposed to toxic mold is scary. Details are easy to overlook. Write down what you remember about your surroundings, any odor, and your health while at work as opposed to being at home or on weekends. Do not share these notes with anyone other than your attorney who will find these enormously helpful in fighting for you.
Step 4: Notify your union.
If you’re a member of a union, make your steward aware of your injury. Your union can provide significant help.
Step 5: Retain an attorney.
Contact a Chicago Workers Compensation Lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced with various cases. Determining the source of the mold and the success of the clean-up is key to successfully satisfying your claim. We help you navigate the claims process to insure that you receive all the benefits you deserve. We fight for your rights, your benefits, and assist with all the details.
We Help Victims.
The Attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner Law apply a disciplined approach to gain a comprehensive perspective of the facts, issues, and injuries experienced by victims of work related injuries. Our knowledge, experience, insight, and advice are invaluable. We make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering the compensation you deserve, while you focus upon recovery.
If you or a loved one is injured at work, please call my office at 312-346-8465 or complete the form below.