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Court orders Nokia to pay compensation to phone-tower worker who got rare cancer
Brazil Created: 2 Feb 2015
The Seventh Chamber of the Paraná Regional Labor Court (TRT-PR) determined payment of compensation to a Curitiba technician who worked for fifteen years in the maintenance of mobile telephone towers and developed a rare type of bone cancer. The transmitters were not switched off during the maintenance.

The companies Nokia Solutions and Networks and Brazil Telecommunications Ltd., formerly Siemens SA, will pay $250,000 in damages plus annually 50% of final salary. The decision can still be appealed.

The technician was hired by the company in August 1986 and conducted testing services, repairs and installations for over 15 years in the signal transmission towers of the company. In 2002, a tumour was found in the worker's right thigh, which was diagnosed as chondrosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. He underwent several surgeries, but finally retired due to disability at age 37. Three co-workers have developed the same type of cancer and died aged 28, 39 and 45.

The technician filed a lawsuit against the company at the 15th Curitiba Court claiming that the health problems could have been caused by direct exposure to the electromagnetic fields radiated by mobile phone towers.

In the first instance, the opinion of the judge of was that there was not sufficient evidence to establish a causal link between the type of work and the disease, since cancer can have multiple causes, such as diet and medications, among other factors.

The worker appealed, arguing that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization, classifies exposure to electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

In their analysis, the judges of the Seventh Class ruled in favor of the employee, noting that an expert report presented information from the medical literature linking electromagnetic radiation with cellular and genetic phenomena that promote cancer. They also highlighted that the company was guilty of omitting prevention and monitoring of risks, in addition to not have performed exposure control of workers at risk of radiation exposure.

"Taking the facts and evidence together, it is considered that the work activities undertaken by the plaintiff contributed to the development of the disease, satisfying a causal link. We find the defendant (Nokia/Brazil Telecommunications Ltd) guilty for not arranging for the work to be performed without risk to the health of the plaintiff," said the text of the judgment, which ordered the company to pay a lifetime monthly pension plus compensation for damages.

Related news:
Mar 2014, Switzerland: Major Insurance Firm Warns of Losses Due to Health Effects of EMFs
Mar 2013, USA: Insurance ranks Radiofrequency Radiation #1 Emerging Risk
Jul 2011, USA: Next asbestos could be in air
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Source: Tribunal Regional do Trabalho da 9ª Região, Translation. MV, 02 Feb 2015

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