A New Jersey Workers' Compensation Judge has dismissed the claim of a maintenance worker who was employed by The Port Authority of NY & NJ (Port Authority) to clean up oil spills. The longterm employee, testified that for 7 years during his employment, he was assigned to Newark Airport as part of en emergency response team to clean up "jet fuel spills, aircraft hydraulic leaks, emergency landings and car accidents." The employee claimed that his exposure to petroleum products occurred also as a buildings and grounds attendant at Port Newark and Lincoln Tunnel while performing spill cleanup work for the Port Authority. The worker testified to benzene exposure as well as asbestos fiber.
Despite the fact that the employee, a non-smoker, testified that he experienced headaches, a sore throat, was tired and suffered from dry mouth, the Judge did not hold the case compensable. The worker explained to the Court that he operated a mechanical sweeper that scrubbed the soiled surfaces with a product known as "Speedy Dry" as part of the spill clean up procedure.
The Court rejected the workers' medical expert who had found him 40% disabled on a pulmonary basis for chronic bronchitis, obstructive lung disease and restrictive pulmonary disease with pleural scarring. The Court relied upon the respondent's medical expert who found that the worker was 3% disabled for pulmonary disability unrelated to the occupational exposure that the defense expert diagnosed as a cough and sinus condition, and "mild bronchitis." In its analysis the Court indicated that no scientific literature was presented attributing causal relationship of the exposure to an occupational condition.
The decision was silent as to any allegation or need for medical monitoring.
Melo v. The Port Authority on NY & NJ., CP