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Ohio State contests ruling that contracted illness was a workplace injury: Part 1

An Ohio workers' compensation board will convene for a hearing today to listen to Ohio State's appeal to an earlier ruling that a long term illness contracted by an employee equated to a workplace injury.

One employee who worked at the university took a routine sick leave nearly two years ago when she began experiencing symptoms of an illness not yet diagnosed. What she thought would be a temporary infection turned into months away from work and a serious illness called histoplasmosis.

In March of 2009, the employee's office at the university became flooded and the subsequent clean-up had been done in a less than complete manner, causing spore growth. "During the time that I was in my office, with the fans running directly above my head, I had a lot of particulate matter falling on me," the injured employee said. "It was so bad that I had to get Clorox wipes ordered through our office manager just to keep wiping off my monitor, my desk and my things."

The infection suffered by the employee was caused by the spores when they were inhaled and settled in her lungs. The worker's illness was exacerbated to a point that required surgery to remove a portion of her lungs in June of that same year.

The injured employee missed several months of work, causing her to lose wages for a significant period of time. When the employee filed for workers' compensation benefits, Ohio State University contested the application.

Source: The Lantern, "OSU worker in lawsuit breathing easier almost 2 years after illness" Molly Gray, 1/31/11

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