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Is workers' compensation available for mold exposure?

Exposure to mold carries significant health threats. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, workers who are exposed to large quantities of mold in work settings can suffer severe reactions can include fevers. People with compromised immune systems and chronic lung diseases are at even greater risk - particularly of fungal infections in their lungs.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, cleanup activities in Pennsylvania and other affected states are still ongoing. These activities often involve dealing with mold. Workers who become sick or injured due to mold contamination may be eligible for Pennsylvania workers' compensation.

Last week, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an urgent news release, warning against mold hazards. OSHA also issued a fact sheet with details about steps for safeguarding workers engaged in cleanup work at sites affected by mold.

"Workers will be exposed to mold during hurricane response and cleanup activities," said Robert Kulick, an OSHA regional administrator in New York. "Remediation of mold-contaminated buildings and surfaces must be done safely, so that no worker is sickened or injured while performing this vital work."

The safety steps OSHA is urging are important for employers to know, regardless of whether their workplace was directly affected by Sandy. This is because mold hazards are a common problem in Pennsylvania and other states, hurricane or no hurricane.

The steps OSHA has identified begin with knowing what mold is and why exposure to it is dangerous. A proper response to mold also includes such things as appropriate engineering controls, sound work practices and the use of personal protective equipment during mold remediation work.

Source: "US Labor Department's OSHA issues new fact sheet on mold hazards and safeguards for workers during Sandy cleanup," OSHA.gov, 12-5-12

Additional source: "Facts about Stachybotrys and Other Molds," CDC.gov

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