Boston Workers' compensation attorneys recognize some on-the-job injuries do not become apparent until much later in one's life. If a work-related injury becomes apparent after one's employment has been terminated, he or she may still be entitled to benefits. There may, however, be more work required to prove worker was injured on the job.
Central OH Coal Co. v. Dir., Office of Workers' Comp. Programs involved an employee who worked at an above-ground coalmine from 1945 until he was laid off in 1999. While he never worked underground, he held many different jobs at above-ground strip mines, including as a heavy equipment operator.
There is no doubt that he was exposed to coal dust on a daily basis at the same levels that he would have been at an underground mine. In 1995, he was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is also known by coalminers as "black lung." He had also been a smoker for nearly 40 years, consuming more than a pack each day. The administrative law judge (ALJ) at his workers' compensation hearing estimated that he smoked the equivalent of 57 "pack years" of cigarettes based, on the amount he smoked.
In 2001, he applied to get his job back, but was not hired because he couldn't pass the required physical exam. The company believed that, even with his oxygen tank, he could not withstand the harsh environment of working at a coal mine.