Almirante: Work-related illness-A A +A
Saturday, March 23, 2013
PETITIONER Jessie David, a seafarer, was employed by respondent OSG Ship management Manila, Inc. for and in behalf of its principal Michaelmar Shipping Services Inc. as a third officer of the crude tanker M/T Raphael. Barely six months into his third contract of employment or in November 2006, he complained of an intolerable pain on his left foot. Upon his repatriation, David was referred to the company designated physician whose pathological report showed, among others: “Left anterior thigh mass excision: Malignant fibrous histiocytoma, myxoid type.” Respondents refused to shoulder David’s expenses and medication. David filed a complaint against them for total and permanent disability benefits, medical expenses and other money claims.
Respondents argued that the illness of David was not work-related. Is there merit to this argument?
David showed that part of his duties as a third officer of the crude tanker M/T Raphael involved “overseeing the loading, stowage, securing and unloading of cargoes.” As a necessary corollary, David was frequently exposed to the crude oil that M/T Raphael was carrying. The chemical components of crude oil include, among others, sulphur, vanadium and arsenic compounds. Hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide may also be encountered, while benzene is a naturally occurring chemical in crude oil.
These hazardous chemicals can possibly contribute to the formation of cancerous masses. In this case, David was diagnosed with MFH (now known as undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma [UPS]), which is a class of soft-tissue sarcoma or an illness that account for approximately one percent of the known malignant tumors. As stated by Dr. Peña of the MMC, who was consulted by the company-designated physician, there are many factors that can cause soft tissue sarcomas. However, some factors are associated with a higher risk. These factors include exposure to chemical carcinogens like some of the chemical components of crude oil. Clearly, David has provided more than a reasonable nexus between the nature of his job and the disease that manifested itself on the sixth month of his last contract. It is not necessary that the nature of the employment be the sole reason for the illness suffered by the seafarer. It is sufficient that there is a reasonable linkage between the disease suffered by the employee and his work to lead a rational mind to conclude that his work may have contributed to the establishment or, at the very least, aggravation of any pre-existing condition he might have had. (Jessie V. David, et. al. vs. OSG Shipmanagement, Inc., et. al., G.R. No. 197205, Sept. 26, 2012).
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 24, 2013.