All employees deserve safe workplace conditions. Properly controlling hazardous chemicals in a manufacturing environment is essential to protect workers’ health. When exposure to a carcinogenic chemical left workers with failing health and unaddressed conditions, our attorneys at Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., were ready to help.
The Challenge: Chemical Exposure for Years
Our clients worked in the plating department of a factory that builds metal rods. These chromium-plated rods use the chemical hexavalent chromium — a known carcinogen. Installed “platers” controlled the hexavalent chromium fumes through ventilation hoods and air scrubbers.
We contended that, in 2007, the factory knew employees were being overexposed to hexavalent chromium. And, it had hired a company to install new ventilation hoods and flight bar covers, and to repair the ventilation system’s air ducts.
In 2010, the workers continued to smell odors so strong they alerted supervisors. They also noticed the chemical was coating the machinery and escaping into the factory.
By 2011, air sampling tests revealed exposure to hexavalent chromium levels, exceeding safety requirements. Meanwhile, we argued that our clients were showing related health issues, such as:
- Nose bleeds
- Respiratory problems
- Sinus injuries
- Skin lesions
For months, an outside company performed a series of tests on the working conditions, revealing noxious fumes. The company failed to report or address the findings — continuing to put the employees’ health at risk.
The Trouble: Inability to Sue Employer
A major obstacle stood in our way while trying to help these workers: Georgia Workers’ Compensation bar forbids employees from suing their employers for work-related injuries.
So, while we felt we could prove hazardous working conditions, we needed to find a way to hold their employer responsible. To do so, we identified that the employees had a case for tort damages, rather than workers’ compensation benefits.
The Goal: Case in Motion
Our attorneys argued that our clients were employees of the corporation that owned the defective equipment, rather than the corporation that owned the plant. This essential framework enabled our team to build the case around who we asserted was at fault.
The Result: Justice Delivered
Our attorneys ensured we left no details on the table. As a result, we argued to defendants that our clients worked in negligently dangerous conditions that affected their health. The result was a pretrial settlement of all our clients’ claims.
The Takeaway: Your Rights Matter
With our attorneys to guide you, we can help you understand your rights and pursue the justice you deserve.