Ohio construction workers are often required to work around heavy or dangerous materials, especially if their work involves repairing the infrastructure. However, a water pipe repair method that was traditionally believed to be safe may actually involve hazardous chemicals.
The water pipe repair method involved, called the cured-in-place method, requires workers to place a resin-impregnated fabric pipe into a cracked or broken water pipe. The resin is then cured using a variety of different methods, including pressurized steam, hot water or ultraviolet light. A new plastic pipe is the desired result. The process releases plumes of what was though to be steam. However, researchers who conducted air tests at several sites where water pipes were being repaired actually found that the plumes were full of chemicals, including endocrine disruptors and known carcinogens.
It was noted that there are no known studies of the impacts of these chemicals on workers, the public or the environment. As such, additional studies are needed to understand what the short- and long-term impacts of these chemicals are. Until then, it recommended that workers wear chemically-resistant gloves while repairing water pipes using this method. They should also report any illnesses and odors they detect to health officials, not just their employers.
Workers’ compensation benefits, while usually associated with injury accidents, are also available to victims who have become ill due to workplace conditions. However, the possibility exists that an employer will dispute a claim on the basis that there is no connection between the disease and the work environment. To anticipate this, the worker might want to have legal assistance at the outset.