The Commission awarded life-time benefits to a mechanic because of COPD and pleural fibrosis, caused by smoking cigarettes and working as a mechanic exposed to pipe insulation, smoke, dust and fumes for 32 years. Medical experts agreed that work and "many years" as a smoker both contributed to his disease. The Commission in a 2-1 decision reversed a denial of benefits, and awarded life-time benefits against the second injury fund and partial disability for asbestosis and future medical against the employer.
The Commission found that claimant showed an increased risk greater than the general public and a link between his medical condition and distinctive features of his job. A claimant does not have to identify a specific noxious chemical. Claimant stated he was exposed to white powder and that fumes from high-sulfur coal burned paint from employer's cars, smelled like rotten eggs and created a blue haze. The administrative law judge denied benefits and concluded that claimant did not meet his burden of proof of any specific asbestos exposure. The Commission rejected the employer's defense that the claimant was not competent to identify a substance as asbestos. The claimant testified about parts of the plant closed for asbestos-abatement, and a supervisor identified material as asbestos. It was further reasonable to assume bags that were marked "asbestos" contained asbestos. Bennett v Kansas City Power & Light, DOLIR 12-7-10.
Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug’s Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts