O’Hare ‘People Mover’ employee desires to put on hazmat swimsuit to keep away from persistent sinus infections, however bosses say no


CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago man desires to put on a hazmat swimsuit whereas on the job, but it surely’s no-go along with his bosses. Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains his scenario so that you can determine who’s being unreasonable: the worker or employer?

When you are on the fly at O’Hare International Airport, you are most likely not fascinated by the folks behind the Airport Transit System, extra generally referred to as the People Mover, the practice between terminals.

“They have to shut the power off, and we actually go on the track, get the train, and drive it back in,” stated service tech Ron Merker.

He’s been troubleshooting points on the Airport Transit System for practically 20 years.

Ever because the People Mover was upgraded with new vehicles, he is encountered an issue he says he cannot repair: sinus an infection after sinus an infection.

“I said, ‘Hey would you please test these trains? Because I’m getting ill,’” stated Merker, who thinks there may be mould on the trains and that he’s allergic.

A May 6 letter from Human Resources says that “spot remediation” was achieved, and that “prior ‘mold’ issues have been fully abated.”

The memo additionally stated air sampling checks are “inconclusive” and that there is “no evidence of mold currently in the trains.”

But Merker stated he’s nonetheless getting sinus infections, which is why he desires to put on a full-body hazmat swimsuit to work. His physician, Dr. T.S. Wright, instructed the swimsuit, additionally calling for an oxygen masks within the medical be aware that Merker supplied to his bosses at O’Hare Airport Transit System, Inc. (OATS).

According to May 27 memo, H.R. instructed Merker his request was reviewed, however is taken into account unreasonable, particularly as a result of there may be “no reason to believe that there is mold on any trains or in any working areas at levels that exceed what would ordinarily be present in outdoor air.”

“He told me, ‘Hey, listen, you can’t wear that thing in there. People are going to think there’s something wrong with the train.’ You know, I get it. It’s optics,” stated Merker of a dialog with higher-ups.

As an alternate, OATS supplied Merker with a particular P100 mask, which is stronger than an N95.

Merker stated he tried the P100 on the trains final week and nonetheless did not really feel properly. He’s unsure what to do subsequent. He has one sick day left.

“Is it the most comfortable thing? No. I haven’t been looking forward to it,” he stated, whereas donning the total protecting gear for our cameras. “You do what you gotta do.”

That might imply getting fired for refusing to trip with out the safety he desires.

CBS 2 reached Dr. Wright by telephone. He stated maybe not a full hazmat swimsuit is critical, however that he nonetheless desires to “maximize protection” for his affected person. Wright emphasised he’s not a pulmonologist, however in his medical opinion, Merker ought to no less than be granted the flexibility to put on a heavy obligation masks with oxygen equipped – much like one a fireman would put on.

The Chicago Department of Aviation launched the next assertion:

“The Chicago Department of Aviation and its contractors do not comment on individual personnel matters. Further, there is absolutely no environmental risk to passengers or employees who rely on the Airport Transit System.”



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