Visitor Question

Forced to work in burned out building with COPD?

Submitted By: Tricia (Brinkley, Arkansas)

I work at a lumber and hardware store. I have been there almost 7 years working as a cashier. Our building caught fire, so now I’m told I have to work on the yard and in the building cleaning. I told my employer I have COPD but was told either do the job or I wont have a job.

The building is about 65 yrs old and I am having to breath in soot and all other types of dust and particles. They will not provide us with masks. We have to buy our own. My breathing is constantly getting worse. I can’t draw unemployment because I have a second full time job.  What can I do? Thanks for any perspective you can provide.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Tricia,

According to the Mayo Clinic, COPD is chronic obstructive pulmonary lung disease which causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

Tell your employer your COPD is worsening and you would like to be referred to a company-approved physician. Your COPD may qualify as an occupational disease, and should therefore be covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

Complete Form AR-C, Notice of Injury and mail it to:

Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission
324 Spring Street, Little Rock, AR 72201

Mail: P. O. Box 950, Little Rock, AR 72203-0950

Once you have been evaluated by the treating physician, s/he will determine if you need further testing to confirm your COPD has worsened as a result of your work environment. If so, and it presents a disability, you will be rated and may be entitled to workers comp benefits.

Learn more here: Dangerous Work Equipment

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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