EEOICPA CIRCULAR NO.15-05             December 17, 2014

 

SUBJECT:  Occupational Exposure Guidance Relating to Asbestos

 

The Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) recognizes that asbestos is a toxic material that was present in all Department of Energy (DOE) facility locations.  Exposure to asbestos has a known health effect that includes the following, as outlined in the Site Exposure Matrix (SEM):

 

  

  • Asbestosis  Aliases: Asbestos pneumoconiosis

  

  • Asbestos-related pleural disease  Aliases: Pleural plaques; Diffuse pleural thickening; Pleural effusions; Rounded atelectasis

  

  • Laryngeal cancer  Aliases: Cancer of larynx; Larynx neoplasms; Larynx cancer; Laryngeal neoplasms

  

  • Lung cancer  Aliases: Bronchogenic carcinoma

  

  • Mesothelioma, peritoneal 

  

  • Mesothelioma, pleural 

  

  • Ovarian cancer  Aliases: Malignant neoplasm of ovary; Epithelial ovarian cancer

  

  • Pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive  Aliases: Bronchitis, chronic; Emphysema; COPD

 

Given the lack of consistent and accurate monitoring data, it is not reasonable to make a finding that an employee with a diagnosed condition potentially linked to asbestos had NO exposure to asbestos.  Rather, in taking a position of inclusion rather than exclusion, CEs may apply the following guidance in making exposure findings:

 

For employees diagnosed with an illness with a known health effect relating to exposure to asbestos who worked at a DOE facility after 1986, it is accepted that they were potentially exposed to toxic substances, including asbestos, but the extent of those exposures did not likely surpass established occupational safety and health standards. 

 

An exception to this guidance applies in the following scenarios:

 

Between 1986 and 1995, while the DEEOIC accepts that industrial hygiene and environmental health and safety practices were significantly improved with regard to limiting employee exposure to toxic substances, including asbestos, certain labor categories would have had the potential for more exposure despite these measures (including the implementation of asbestos management programs). These labor categories are:

 

·        Automotive mechanic; Vehicle mechanic; Vehicle maintenance mechanic

·        Boilermaker

·        Carpenter; Drywaller; Plasterer

·        Demolition technician; Laborer

·        Electrical mechanic; Electrician; Floor covering worker

·        Furnace & saw operator; Furnace builder; Furnace operator; Furnace puller; Furnace technician; Furnace tender; Furnace unloader

·        Glazier; Glass installer; Glazer

·        Grinder operator; Mason (concrete grinding); Tool grinder; Maintenance mechanic (general grinding); Welder (general grinding); Machinist (machine grinding)

·        Insulation worker; Insulation trade worker; Insulator

·        Ironworker; Ironworker-rigger

·        Maintenance mechanic; Electrician; Insulator

·        Mason; Brick & tile mason; Concrete and terrazzo worker; Bricklayer, Tilesetter

·        Millwright

·        Heavy equipment operator; Operating Engineer

·        Painter

·        Pipefitter, Plumber steamfitter; Plumber/pipefitter; Plumbing & pipefitting mechanic; Plumbing technician, Steamfitter

·        Roofer

·        Sheet metal mechanic; Sheet metal fabricator/installer

·        Welder; Welder burner; Welder mechanic

 

For employees diagnosed with an illness with a known health effect relating to asbestos who worked at a DOE facility between 1986 and 1995 AND who worked in one of the aforementioned labor categories, it is accepted that they were potentially exposed to asbestos.  However, the extent of the exposure would have likely been at low levels.

 

In order for the CE to accept any level of exposure above a low level, he or she must obtain definitive and compelling evidence to show that any employee at a DOE facility after 1986 had consistent, unprotected contact with asbestos and/or asbestos-containing materials.  Evidence of this nature may include:

 

·        Industrial Hygiene/Environmental sampling or monitoring data

·        Incident/accident reports

·        Documentation of containment breaches during asbestos abatement activities

·        Reliable testimony/affidavits of elevated exposures

·        Position descriptions

 

If the CE identifies evidence that he or she feels is suggestive of exposure above the guidelines set out above, the CE is to contact the Lead Industrial Hygienist (IH) at the National Office to discuss whether a formal IH referral is necessary.

 

Any findings of exposure, including infrequent, incidental exposure, require review of a physician to opine on the possibility of causation. This is necessary as even minimal exposure to some toxins may have a significant “aggravating or contributing” relationship to the diagnosed illness.

 

 

 

RACHEL P. LEITON

Director, Division of Energy Employees

Occupational Illness Compensation

 

Distribution List No. 1:  Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, District Office Mail & File Sections