CAR WASH WORKERS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Car Wash Workers have many unique issues with respect to workers’ compensation. Car Wash Workers perform varied tasks which place them at risk for injury. Car Wash Workers are exposed to chemicals and liquids which may place them at risk for injury.

This article will discuss Car Wash Workers and the job tasks that place them at risk for industrial injury.

What Makes Car Wash Workers at Risk for Injury?

“The car wash industry, however, has salient features that predispose to important occupational health risks, namely, the use of hazardous chemicals (ie, hydrofluoric acid), the requirement of repetitive use of extremities, [and] close contact with moving machinery,” Occupational Health of New York City Car Wash Workers Dickens, Brittany BA; Ruiz-Olivo, Laura BA; Palaguachi, Diego BA; Jimenez, David BA; Markowitz, Steven B. MD, DrPH Author Information Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 2 – p e77-e79 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001520

What are the Common Job Tasks Do Workers Perform at Car Washes?

In the study, most participants rotated among the few major tasks at the car wash, including drying cars (63%), brushing and soaping cars (56%), and vacuuming and cleaning cars (50%).
Occupational Health of New York City Car Wash Workers Dickens, Brittany BA; Ruiz-Olivo, Laura BA; Palaguachi, Diego BA; Jimenez, David BA; Markowitz, Steven B. MD, DrPH Author Information Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 2 – p e77-e79 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001520

What Type of Complaints Can Car Wash Workers Have?

In the study, “Car wash workers reported a high prevalence of health symptoms during the 12 months prior to the survey, including at least one site of musculoskeletal pain (80%); upper airway, eye, or skin irritation (71%); and at least one lower respiratory symptom (47%) (Table 2). Approximately one-half of all workers reported eye and throat irritation, back pain, neck or shoulder pain, hand pain, headaches, or nausea/stomach discomfort. The majority of workers reported multiple symptoms across the different symptoms groups. Thirty-eight (54%) participants reported two or more musculoskeletal symptoms in the past 12 months, and 37 (53%) reported two or more types of irritation (nose bleeds, throat irritation, eye irritation/burning, skin rash, or skin burn). Two workers had suffered fractures at work in the past 12 months, and one-quarter of the work force reported a laceration or abrasion of the skin. Three workers reported an episode of asthma or an asthma attack in the past 12 months.” Occupational Health of New York City Car Wash Workers Dickens, Brittany BA; Ruiz-Olivo, Laura BA; Palaguachi, Diego BA; Jimenez, David BA; Markowitz, Steven B. MD, Dr PH Author Information Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 2 – p e77-e79 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001520

What Type of Hand Movements Can Be a Source of Injury?

There are numerous tasks at Car Washes that can be a source of injury. These tasks involve Manual Handling, Awkward Hand Positions, Applying Pressure, and the use of Vibrating Tools.

Manual Handling includes “lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying and holding. Tasks that require these actions can include moving and transporting heavy equipment; everyday machines, such as vacuums; and loads, such as laundry.”

Awkward Hand Position includes “contorting hand posture to abnormal positions to clean hard-to-reach areas or slanted surfaces, such as windows. This would also include risks associated with using older or cheap spray bottles or equipment handles.”

Applying Pressure includes “pressing down or applying extra pressure to remove dirt or soil. Consider more powerful cleaning products or equipment if workers are using too much elbow grease to get the job done.”

The Use of Vibrating Equipment which includes “losing control and constant shaking. Machines that vibrate too much can cause hand fatigue, increasing the chances of workers losing control of the equipment.” . The importance of hand care in the car care industry Rich DiPaolo (2016)

Are There Chemical Exposures That Are Injurious to Car Wash Workers?

Yes. Chemicals used at Car Washes have been implicated in causing occupational illness.

“Exposure to hydrofluoric acid (HF) causes corrosive chemical burns and potentially fatal systemic toxicity. Car and truck wash cleaning products, rust removers, and aluminum brighteners often contain HF because it is efficient in breaking down roadway matter.” Reeb-Whitaker CK, Eckert CM, Anderson NJ, Bonauto DK. Occupational Hydrofluoric Acid Injury from Car and Truck Washing–Washington State, 2001-2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(32):874-877. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6432a4

“Occupational exposure to HF-based wash solutions can result in chemical burns, disability, and death. HF’s potential to cause severe injury.” Supra.

Are Car Wash Employees At Risk for Skin Disorders?

Yes. Cash Wash Employees suffer skin-related due to working with liquids. This type of work is called “wet work.” Zani MLC, Lazzarini R, Silva-Junior JS. W arm-water immersion foot among car wash workers. Rev Bras Med Trab. 2017;15(3):217-221. Published 2017 Sep 1. doi:10.5327/Z1679443520170021

“Wet work is characterized by activities involving frequent immersion of the hands in water, frequent or intensive hand washing or frequent use of impermeable gloves. Workers exposed to wet work might develop hand eczema and contact dermatitis”

Car Washes provide for the risk of both hand skin disorders as well as foot skin disorders. Supra.

“Prolonged contact with water causes different forms of dermatitis, including hand eczema among workers exposed to wet work3. In turn, superficial mycoses are the conditions that most commonly affect the lower limbs. However, continuous and excessive contact with water might also cause a disorder known as immersion foot or trench foot. The latter is a dermatosis that results from prolonged exposure to physical agents such as dampness and cold, and was first described among soldiers in World War I (1914-1918). ”
Supra.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

INDOOR SWIMMING POOLS, WATER PARKS AND WORK-RELATED ASTHMA: POOL WORKERS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

In California, there are many individuals who work at Water-Related Facilities.   With respect to this article, the Water-Related Facilities to be discussed are swimming pools, water parks, and hydrotherapy spas.

These facilities have been implicated as a source of either “new asthma” or an “aggravation of a pre-existing asthma condition.”   An “asthma-related injury” caused by work at such a facility would give rise to a workers’ compensation claim.   Such a claim would allow the Injured Worker to obtain monetary compensation in the form of both temporary and permanent disability, medical care, and vocational rehabilitation benefits, if indicated.

This article will discuss the nature of Water-Related Facilities, conditions which make these facilities susceptible to “water-related asthma injuries”, and the types of workers at such facilities that are at risk.

What Has Science Found Concerning Water-Related Facilities and Asthma?

“Clinicians need to be aware of the potential adverse effect that indoor swimming pools and water parks may have on both causing the onset of new asthma and aggravating pre-existing asthma. Attention to swimming pools and water parks as potential triggers for asthma may, for selected patients, be an important factor in asthma management.

The American College of Chest Physicians has developed a consensus statement for the diagnosis and management of work-related asthma that clinicians can refer to when evaluating adult patients with asthma35 . Weisel CP, Richardson SD, Nemery B, et al. Childhood asthma and environmental exposures at swimming pools: state of the science and research recommendations. Environ Health Perspect. 2009;117(4):500-507. doi:10.1289/ehp.11513

What Types of Workers are Susceptible to these Injuries?

Lifeguards and Pool Maintenance Workers have been implicated to be at risk for these injuries.

What Is Asthma?

Per the Centers for Disease Control, “Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs…Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, but you will have asthma attacks only when something bothers your lungs.”

“Occupational asthma occurs when someone who never had asthma develops it because he or she is exposed to something at work. This can happen if you develop an allergy to something at work such as mold or if you are exposed to irritants such as wood dust or chemicals at work over and over at lower levels or all at once at higher levels.” Supra.

What is It About Pools that Can Bring on Asthma?

The term commonly used with respect to Occupational Asthma, in this setting, is Disinfection By Products (DBPs.)

“[T]traditional chemical disinfection processes result in the formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs) (Aggazzotti and Predieri 1986; Aggazzotti et al. 1998; Beech et al. 1980; Chu and Nieuwenhuijsen 2002; Fantuzzi et al. 2001; Glauner et al. 2005; Judd and Jeffrey 1995; Kim et al. 2002; Li and Blatchley 2007; Weil et al. 1980; Weisel and Shepard 1994; Zwiener et al. 2007). The specific types and levels of DBPs formed depend on numerous factors, including the type and amount of disinfectant used, characteristics of the swimming pool and pool water, and swimmer hygiene (Zwiener et al. 2007).” Weisel CP, Richardson SD, Nemery B, et al. Childhood asthma and environmental exposures at swimming pools: state of the science and research recommendations. Environ Health Perspect. 2009;117(4):500-507. doi:10.1289/ehp.11513

One study reported that it was “nitrogrogen trichloride is a cause of occupational asthma. This should be considered when choosing chlorine-based disinfectants that are likely to come into contact with a nitrogen source. It should also be considered in anyone developing occupational asthma working at a swimming pool and is also a likely cause of asthma in those who swim in these pools.  To prevent further cases, much more attention should be paid to the quality of air in indoor swimming buildings, as well as t the care of the chlorine content of the water. Occupational asthma caused by chloramines in indoor swimming-pool air.  K.M. Thickett, J.S. McCoach, J.M. Gerber, S. Sadhra, P.S. Burge, European Respiratory Journal 2002 19:827-832, DOR: 10.1183/09031936.02.00232802

Does the Worker Need to Go In the Water Be at Risk for Injury?

No. Workers who do not go into pools are at risk as well.  Working at the swimming pool, but not going in the pool, may be a sufficient exposure. As noted above, it is an issue of air quality within the facilities that is a concern.

I Work at a Pool Facility and Am Having Lung Problems, What Should I Do?

It is recommended you seek medical attention, If you receive a diagnosis of asthma, you would consider filing a workers’ compensation claim.  It is recommended you consult with an attorney as well.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

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