Allergy to Wood Stain Renders Claimant PTD

Claimant, 56,  was found unable to work after he developed an allergic reaction to applying stain, varnish, insulation texture and spraying fire retardants working for a company in the Branson area. Knepper v Midwest Coating of Mid Missouri, 2013 Mo WCLR Lexis 213 (November 21, 2013).

Claimant sought treatment for cracks and swelling of his right hand.  Claimant underwent multiple debridement, developed an MRSA infection, and triggering in two fingers of his right hand. The employer stipulated an injury through an exposure to chemicals that is medically and casually related to his work in 2006. The employer's expert indicated that the injury to the right hand created an opening for the MRSA infection causing chronic residual dermatitis, lymphedema and neurologic impairment.  He felt claimant could work with lifting restrictions as long as he avoided irritants and drying solutions.  The claimant's vocational expert concluded claimant's poor use of his hand eliminated most unskilled jobs and ruled out other jobs because he couldn't state they were chemical-free.  Claimant's vocational expert was the only expert to find claimant unemployable.

The Commission affirmed the award 2-1, with a dissent which concluded claimant was only partially disabled.

It was undisputed that claimant had marginal academic abilities at the 4th grade level which vocationally impaired his ability to be retrained.  The ALJ noted the lack of ratings of  prior disability despite chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions to invoke any potential Fund liability.   Claimant had worked previous hand-intensive jobs cleaning floors, deboning chicken and flipping donuts.

Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug's Mo. Workers' Comp Alerts.

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