Rice farm welder wins chemical-exposure lawsuit


Julio de los Santos’s respiratory condition is serious, progressive and irreversible, says a medical report submitted with his complaint. (Photo by Ricardo Antúnez)

For the first time, an Uruguayan labor court has ruled in favor of a worker who complained of health problems caused by workplace exposure to agrochemicals. On Sept. 14, a national labor court upheld welder Julio de los Santos’s claim that his respiratory illness was caused by his exposure to agrochemicals while working without protective gear at a rice-farming company. The court ordered the company, Arrozal 33, to pay him US$46,500 in non-pecuniary damages and US$4,650 in special damages. De los Santos, who filed his claim three years ago, has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and chronic respiratory failure, court documents show. Though the damage award is modest and the company can appeal the decision, the ruling by labor court Judge Elena Salaberry nevertheless marks a legal turning point in Uruguay, says attorney Santiago Mirande, who represented De los Santos. “Never in Uruguay has there been... [Log in to read more]

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