First Workers' Compensation Cases Building for Oil Spill Cleanup

22,000 workers have been hired by BP to combat the Gulf oil spill, along with potentially thousands of others brought in by other organizations. Fishermen, environmental workers and others who are doing the hard work of dispersing and capturing the oil, limiting its impact on the ocean and shore, and cleaning up the mess are all working in or close to crude oil and cleanup chemicals.

Many of them are getting sick, which leads to a host of concerns. Many of these workers may have long-term workers' compensation claims after participating in the most massive cleanup effort after an industrial accident in American history.

OSHA representatives, Obama administration officials and others have expressed concerns that the oil dispersant chemical Corexit may be the source of the illnesses reported on May 26 by cleanup workers. In May, the EPA urged BP to stop using Corexit because of its toxicity. Corexit is manufactured by Nalco, whose board of directors has strong ties to the oil industry, including sharing at least one board member with BP.

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