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DOL Denies Workers' Comp to Ground Zero OSHA Inspector With Lung Disease

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | 724 | 0 | 0 min read

A former Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector who was sent to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks to ensure the safety of rescue workers is having trouble getting workers' compensation benefits for his lung disease, the New York Daily News reports.

The federal government's World Trade Center Victims Compensation Fund has acknowledged a link between 59-year-old Dale Henderson's lung disease and his time at Ground Zero, but the U.S. Labor Department has not. 

"It’s hard to understand how this process works,” Henderson told The News. “I have one arm of the federal government acknowledging the 9/11 link, and other arm saying that’s not enough.”

The Labor Department said Henderson has not proved a causal link between his interstitial lung disease and his time at Ground Zero.

Henderson began experiencing lung issues in 2006, and in 2009 he had a major health scare. His skin broke out in a violent red rash, with blistering, and his trouble breathing turned out to be lung disease that had developed to a point where he was close to total respiratory failure.

He was placed in a medically induced coma for seven weeks.

The hospital told Henderson's wife, Melissa, that the rash was the result of "the chemicals that had sat deep in his body for a long time."

"It sure came out with a vengeance," she said. 

After Henderson emerged from his coma, Melissa Henderson was able to quit her job to care for him for two years thanks to a $300,000 payout from the WTC Victims Compensation Fund related to Henderson's interstitial lung disease diagnosis. Interstitial lung disease is an ailment that has been linked to work on the Ground Zero site. 

Henderson went back to work at an OSHA desk job until late 2016, by which point he couldn't walk across the office without losing his breath. He now sleeps with supplemental oxygen at night and has dialysis three times a week due to failing kidneys. 

"I’m not trying to be greedy or get something for nothing. I worked as long as I could,” Henderson said.

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