Workers who wear respirators and dust masks may assume they are safe from hazardous substances in the workplace. However, a series of recent verdicts reveals their assumption may not always be true. In March 2016, a Kentucky miner won a $8 million verdict after he contracted black lung due to a defective mask. On June 2, 2016, a worker won a $32.8 million verdict due to his respirator using a flawed two-point strap system.
The most troubling feature of a defective mask case is the fact that the mask effectively encourages the worker to work unprotected in a hazardous environment for an extended period of time. The two-point strap system is a particularly troubling design because it increases the risk that the protective hold will fail. Even when fitted properly and unknown to the user of the device, some masks can fail after limited use due to their design.
Lawyers in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section are investigating cases where workers developed a severe lung disease from an occupational exposure even though the workers in each case wore a protective mask. If you are going to wear a mask, make sure you have been properly fitted and that the mask is suitable to protect you from known hazards. If you have any questions about these cases, contact Parker Miller at 800-898-2034 or Parker.Miller@beasleyallen.com.
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