Your problem sounds really complicated, trying to do the right thing for your employee and your company. Can your company afford to consult a lawyer? (Alternatively, can it afford not to?)
Best of luck,
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of B Acs
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2018 11:44 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Seizures and lab safety
Hi. I apologize for the rather anonymous posting. There is some sensitive HR stuff, that while I tried to keep identifying data out, if my real email address were out there, a quick search would ID the company and since we are so small, other employees could figure out who I am talking about.
I found a thread in the archive about a student with epilepsy in the lab. The conclusion, as far as I could tell, was that if it was controlled with meds, it was OK with some policies - no working alone, etc. However, I could not find anything about if a seizure actually happened and people's experiences.
Over the weekend, a new employee (1 week) had a seizure, fell, hit head, and required stitches. We were not told by employee about the potential for this (and from what I have seen on the internet regarding ADA and discrimination, I can understand why the employee did not disclose). I will be contacting employee today to get employee's statement of what happened. I think the employer has the right to know how often this may happen and what to do in the employee's specific case.
I read about shifting duties away from the lab as being discriminatory, but there was also something about if driving is required for the job that 3 months without a seizure was a reasonable requirement. I would think public safety and the potential for causing an accident that could harm others is certainly an issue if a company knowingly required an employee to drive with this potential. How does lab safety of the employee and coworkers factor into this?
Technician role requires use of chemicals, including nitric acid, peroxide, flammables, and glassware. Microbiology side runs the risk of contaminating employee or samples. Autoclaves, other heated surfaces. Not to be heartless and deviate from employee safety, but samples are valuable and limited (as in, we may not have enough to repeat experiment if compromised). Loss of samples could mean loss of client.
Has anyone dealt with this? Internet says that employers unintentionally discriminate in the name of safety. The first link I found on a search is from RSC.
Today, I have to start workers comp paperwork. I have to look at it from that perspective, too. Will that drive up our rate? Small company - <20 employees covering 2 shifts, 7 days a week. So, hard to shift responsibilities and keep coverage for safety and duties.
I cannot tell other employees these details without employee consent. I can't pressure the employee to give consent, but how do I explain the issue or provide training on what to do if a seizure happens again? If I just suddenly give a module on seizures and blood-borne pathogens, most people would be able to put 2 and 2 together. But I have to protect my other employees too.
Employee has already stated a fear of losing job over this and had even requested not contacting parents, even though they were on the emergency contact list.
What safety precautions are people implementing to protect the employee, people around them, and the lab?
While I understand that no meds are 100% effective, what policies are in place if an employee does have a seizure in regards to future work duties?
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
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