Broward Industrial Plating, Inc. v. Weiby
394 So.2d 1117 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981)

Facts:

  • The claimant’s job involved anodizing aluminum, which consisted of dipping aluminum into tanks that contained various chemical solutions.
    • The claimant testified that the facility was poorly ventilated, and chemical fumes rose to his face and caused discomfort upon being inhaled.
  • He contracted bronchial asthma as a child and had breathing difficulties prior to his work with the employer.
  • From December 1978 to July 1979, the claimant was hospitalized 5 times for examination and treatment of his respiratory difficulties.
  • In October 1979, the claimant’s hands started to swell and turn numb. Dr. Porth, an orthopedic surgeon, diagnosed vasculitis, and he thought that this condition was a delayed but direct result of exposure to noxious gases at work.

History:
The Deputy found that the claimant’s bronchial asthma and vasculitis were occupational diseases.

Issue:
Whether the elements for occupational disease were satisfied.

Holding:
No. Case reversed and remanded.

Reasoning:

  • Under s 440.151, Fla.Stat., the following elements must be proven by a claimant to show that he is entitled to compensation for an occupational disease:
    • (1) The disease must be actually caused by employment conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular occupation;
    • (2) The disease must be actually contracted during employment in the particular occupation;
    • (3) The occupation must present a particular hazard of the disease occurring so as to distinguish that occupation from usual occupations, or the incidence of the disease must be substantially higher in the occupation than in usual occupations; and
    • (4) If the disease is an ordinary disease of life, the incidence of such a disease must be substantially higher in the particular occupation than in the general public.
  • Here, the claimant has failed to prove at least two of the elements:
    • First, he had not shown that his occupation presented a particular hazard of bronchial asthma occurring so as to distinguish his occupation from usual occupations. Nor did he demonstrate that the incidence of bronchial asthma is substantially higher in his occupation than in usual occupations. These statements also apply to the claimant’s vasculitis.
    • Second, the claimant had not shown that the incidence of bronchial asthma, which is an ordinary disease of life, was substantially higher in his occupation than in the general public. In fact, the testimony of the plant’s owner, the plant manager, and the claimant himself, readily indicate that no respiratory problems were experienced by other employees in the past or present.
  • However, the court remanded because it’s possible that he suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing asthmatic condition. Similarly, the record did not suggest the possibility that the claimant’s vasculitis may be compensable under the exposure theory of accident.

Rule: Under s 440.151, Fla.Stat. (Occupational disease), the following elements must be proven by a claimant to show that he is entitled to compensation for an occupational disease:

  1. The disease must be actually caused by employment conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular occupation;
  2. The disease must be actually contracted during employment in the particular occupation;
  3. The occupation must present a particular hazard of the disease occurring so as to distinguish that occupation from usual occupations, or the incidence of the disease must be substantially higher in the occupation than in usual occupations; and
  4. If the disease is an ordinary disease of life, the incidence of such a disease must be substantially higher in the particular occupation than in the general public.