Experience Brings Results

Potential toxic exposure in Oregon portable classrooms

It has recently been brought to the attention of authorities that some portable classrooms could potentially subject teachers to toxic exposure of mold and other irritants. Once the teachers notified school authorities of the symptoms they had suffered after being in their portable classroom trailers, the Oregon division of the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) stepped in to investigate. While the toxic exposure was isolated to Scott School, other portable classrooms could pose the same risks.

Some of the physical symptoms reported by the teachers included eye issues, runny noses, coughing and other respiratory problems. It was found that problems in the classroom included increased carbon monoxide, dusty filters and limited ventilation. A test revealed that there was not a mold problem, but the validity of the results has been questioned by the teachers in the classrooms.

Extensive testing revealed that there was not really an issue with the air quality in the portable classrooms, but the teachers continued to voice the same complaints. OSHA stated that perhaps the teachers had an allergy or respiratory sensitivity, which would not be an issue for OSHA. However, it is possible that the teachers could be entitled to workers' compensation for their pain and suffering.

Oregon requires almost every employer to offer workers' compensation. These teachers, because they have suffered while performing work duties, could receive compensation to cover medical expenses from their medical issues. Toxic exposure to irritants could be the responsibility of the employer, even if the air quality in the trailer was not deemed to be on a level that is considered dangerous by OSHA.

Source: earthfix.opb.org, "Is My Portable Classroom Making Me Sick?", , May 8, 2014

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