Paint Fuming

I don’t like being poisoned.

I don’t like being lied to.

I don’t like being lied about.

I don’t like being yelled at and bullied.

I do like being supported by my coworkers and finding my inner American.

This week at work we had an incident. 

The clinic beside us decided to hire a painter under the table  (illegal)

to use toxic paints (not allowed in our mall, soon to be banned in Canada),

with a sprayer (not allowed in our mall),

during working hours (not allowed)

without any safety equipment or MSDS’s (required by law)

and the paints and solvents were left uncovered after the painter left (just stupid).

Because we complained, after I began to feel dizzy and unsafe on a ladder, some of those things were changed – ok, only the part about painting during business hours.  Perhaps that was only because customers began to leave.

Not only did they lie to us about which paints they used, they tried to bully us into being quiet. 

The person who hired her cousin to paint the clinic she worked in told me it was water based.  This was after she told me it was oil-based.  And after our mall mainenance man told us he had personally told us he covered up oil paints.  And after the temp in that clinic told me she covered up paint thinner (not used with water paints).  And after customer of ours, a paint inspector, told us that it could also have been melamine or quick dry industrial (worse) but not water or latex. 

Then this person called me to yell at me.  She then lied to us to the mall manager.  Later she walked into our store to yell at us for “ruining her vacation”.  We had asked for the MSDS which is required by law, didn’t know that following safety laws could ruin someone’s vacation. 

 She refused to give us the information that would let us find the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) so that I could look up what compounds were in the fumes and if they could get into breastmilk.  Since this is information is required on site by law, I called Occupational Health and Safety to aid me.  I called a little late for them to do anything since all paint and solvent had been removed from site right after I complained.  Including the customary touch-up can.

I found my inner American.  Albeit, a polite version.  Nevertheless, unlike the temp in the next clinic, I left the toxic area until ventilation had been installed.  Instead of taking the bullying, name-calling, threats and mocking, I walked away from her and let my capable co-worker (who used to be in the Navy) escort her out the door.

I don’t think anything can be done now.  However, the clinic owner will be informed of this incident when he arrives back from vacation.  Perhaps he can get the MSDS for us.  Perhaps not.

I can dream that this lying bully will be fired.  I can dream she will apologize.  I doubt it.  But, I now have practice in being a little more assertive and it will be on file in government records.

And if this woman is still in charge and my kids ever need braces, we will find a different clinic.



13 thoughts on “Paint Fuming

  1. ... Zoe ~ says:

    Sounds awful Prairie! Make sure you have a detailed account of what happened and who said what.

  2. ... Zoe ~ says:

    And keep a detailed account of any symptoms you experience.

  3. Ahab says:

    What Zoe said.

    • prairienymph says:

      The Safety inspector finally came today. He gave a talking to both the bully of a secretary and the mall manager. He also said he would follow up with the painter and check out his documentation and inform the owner of the clinic of what happened. 🙂

      Also, he told us the paint was some sort of industrial high gloss enamel. I looked up the symptoms and every one matched: dizziness, blurry vision, sore throat, headache, nausea…. Now I’m just annoyed at the doctor who insinuated that I had a virus or an imagination instead and declared “no injury” on the form.

      Everything has been documented and sent in. Feels good to be done. Still not 100%. The search said that it can cause permanent brain damage. Hopefully we escaped that one, although it might be a good excuse for forgetting why I opened the fridge. :p

      • ... Zoe ~ says:

        Not enough education is done within the medical community regarding chemical toxicity. Keep a detailed account of your health (there can be long-term consequences), and names of all involved, including the doctor who told you it’s your imagination.

        Kirstin, I’m thinking it probably had something to do with saving money. 😦

      • prairienymph says:

        I have done so. It is on file now at WCB. I am thinking of taking the MSDS over to the medical clinic so the doctor can see what symptoms are. However, I don’t think he cares. I’ve seen him a few times before and he was less than helpful on every occasion. Almost dangerously less than helpful. Another reason why I keep thinking of med school is just to replace people like him.

  4. Lorena says:

    Sorry to hear about that incident. It sounds highly upsetting. I would be climbing the walls!

    On another subject, you’re an American? If you told me before, it didn’t register 😉

    • prairienymph says:

      I’m not American, but I’ve lived with Americans. It became a joke. If I found a hair in my meal in a restaurant, I would let the waiter know apologetically and let them know that someone else might complain if they weren’t more careful. My American friends would demand a whole new meal for free. I’m learning to stand up for myself but not at that level.

  5. Kirstin says:

    My question is, why in the world would the clinic want to use such awful paint in the first place?? What an ugly situation…

    • prairienymph says:

      don’t think the paint is cheaper, but it is shinier. They told me they wanted more Feng Shui (sp)?

      • ... Zoe ~ says:

        Feng Shui or Fung Shui. Both are used. And clearly “they” know nothing about the concepts of Feng Shui or they’d never have brought anything toxic into the enviornment. They are pretenders. 😉

  6. Quince says:

    It is good to learn to be assertive, but choose your battles carefully. Not every battle is worthy, not every thing that seems offensive is worth your time, effort, or elevated stress. It is a fine line to know when to stand up for what is ‘right’ or what you believe to be right, vs what may lead to further unnecessary stress or confrontation. That said, Canadians are wimps generally and I realize dislike confrontation entirely. I have learned to use to to my advantage (sounds terrible I know!), and I find that most people will reluctantly right a wrong when confronted because they don’t want to be confronted again. The person that got angry at you is not going to ever change or be worth enough of your time to stress over it. But I think you did the right thing and handled it appropriately. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but when it is obvious that someone is lying or trying to cover up a wrong rather than admitting a mistake or wrongdoing I have no problem pointing it out. Maybe I’m just getting older and crankier 🙂 But it is generally better to ‘take the high road’ during the situation, then you don’t do or say something you will regret later.

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