Histoplasmosis, An Outdoor Jobs Illness in North Carolina Can Lead to Workers’ Comp Claims

The Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration Institute (SWR Institute) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have renewed their alliance that strives to decrease exposures to industry hazards by its workers, according to a recent OSHA press release.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Greensboro and elsewhere know that OSHA’s Alliance Program works with groups and organizations with a strong desire to prevent and reduce workplace illnesses and injuries.
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The program increases the knowledge of both employer and employee on how to identify and correct potential workplace hazards.

“The compliance assistance materials created through this Alliance are good sources of safety and health information for employers and workers in the sealant, waterproofing and restoration industry,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “I expect the materials generated through the continuation of the Alliance to further assist employers and workers in recognizing and preventing hazardous working conditions.”

Through the Alliance program, OSHA and the SWR Institute have created a safety and health field manual. This manual enables employers to recognize and eliminate workplace hazards related to the sealant and waterproofing industry including excavation and trenching, fall protection, aerial and scissor lift and respiratory protection.

The SWR Institute has over 10,000 members from more than 230 commercial manufacturers, contractors and consultants of sealant, waterproofing and restoration products. With a two-year extension, the Alliance program will continue advancement in workplace health and safety for SWR Institute members and anyone associated with the sealant, waterproofing, and restoration industry.

An interesting section in the field manual includes the disease Histoplasmosis, which is a fungus caused by bat and bird droppings. When a concentrated area of droppings is disturbed the fungus produces spores that become airborne and can be inhaled by nearby workers.

Not only can restorers of historic or abandoned buildings be exposed to this danger so can construction workers, bridge inspectors or painters, demolition workers, roofers and heating and air-conditioning system installers. Histoplasmosis causes a treatable lung infection but it can be fatal if the infection spreads.

To avoid getting histoplasmosis: -Protect yourself from the dust of contaminated soil.

-Don’t disturb accumulated areas of bat or bird droppings until the contaminated areas have been abated.
-Wear the proper personal protective equipment when working in high-risk areas.

Respirator use would be necessary to protect the health of workers in high-risk areas. Your employer must have an established respiratory protection program with jobsite-specific procedures that include:

  • How to select the proper respirators for use at the jobsite.
  • Any employee that might use a respirator needs a medical exam.
  • How to fit test the respirator and how to use it in an emergency situation.
  • Protocols for cleaning, storing, inspecting and maintaining the respirator.
  • Tell workers the respiratory hazards that exist on the jobsite.
  • Instruct workers on the use and limitations of a respirator.
  • Workers should be instructed on what respirator to use for each hazard that is present.
  • Employers need to evaluate respiratory procedures on a regular basis.


If you have been injured at a North Carolina job site or are having problems with a disability or workers’ compensation claim, seek the help of the workers’ compensation lawyers at the Lee Law Offices, P.A. to get you the compensation you deserve. Call for a free no-obligation appointment at 1-800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

Raised Fork Lifts a Common Cause of Fall Accidents in Greensboro, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 4, 2011

Cardiac Arrest a Common Cause of Death at Work in North Carolina, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 23, 2011

Whistleblowers Protected When Reporting Hazards at North Carolina Job Sites, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 22, 2011

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