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Sounds Like Someone’s About To Get Sued

, , , , , , , | Healthy | August 19, 2021

I work for a major financial company. I was the manager of the branch in question. I worked long hours there. I was usually there from a few hours before open until significantly after close. I was the first person to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. It was exhausting.

We were running on (essentially) a skeleton crew, so I had to be familiar with every position from janitor on out and fill in for anyone who was sick.

We were in a dense commercial block, with small antique shops, restaurants, other financial companies, and even a theatre.

I started getting headaches at work. Some days, they were so bad I threw up in the bathroom before driving home. It seemed that the longer I was at work, the worse I felt.

I started seeing the gas company van parked on the block more and more often. In a local restaurant, while enjoying lunch, I overheard that all of the commercial spaces near ours were complaining about gas smell.

One day, one of our clients complained of a gas smell in our branch. I didn’t smell anything. None of my coworkers smelled anything. But the guidance was clear on what to do; we called the gas company and reported that there was a gas smell.

We were told to leave the building, so we did dutifully, complaining the whole way. The gas company showed up with their tester. As he brought the tester device near my office, it started clicking. It started clicking really fast. The gas company guy turned to us, quite pale, and asked how we hadn’t exploded yet.

They evacuated us a few more blocks away. I remember a fire company person asking me if I was dizzy or nauseous. I was, but it was normal for me, so I was confused and didn’t know how to answer. I wish to this day I had answered, because my spouse had apparently noticed that I was mentally deteriorating the whole time, and even now, five years later, I’m noticeably slower and less mentally capable than I once was. 

After they aired out the first floor with large vans that had large fans, I was brought back into the office to unlock the door to the basement, where the gas concentration was strongest. By now, I’d sent all my coworkers home with a promised full day’s pay.

I unlocked the door a bit nervously and was hustled away from it again while they went into the basement.

Earlier that year, in January, we’d gotten a new furnace. It turned out that they hadn’t joined the unions correctly and the furnace was leaking out gas at a prodigious rate. What actually saved us from an explosion was that there was very little oxygen down there, mostly just gas and carbon monoxide.

The basements of all of the commercial buildings on the block were separated by old crumbling brickwork, so the gas from my office was leaking into the neighboring commercial buildings, too. They all had to be aired out. All of the gas problems on the block were the fault of my faulty furnace.

And I was the one who’d suffered the most exposure to it, as we kept our secure documents in the basement, and I was the only one with the key, going down there every day, multiple times a day to retrieve or return documents.

I still work for the company, but in a different district far away. I still don’t know how to get compensation for any harm I may have suffered in those working conditions.