View Full Version : My co-worker is leaking

Mar 18, 2010, 08:08 AM
Ok... I work with someone who is morbidly obese... I'm talking easily over 500 pounds. He has extremely swollen and purple ankles. He has been in this condition for as long as I have known him. Recently, his one ankle seems to be leaking fluid through the skin. It looks clear, but stains his pants and shoes yellow-brown-orangish. Now, when I say his ankle is leaking... I mean that the fluid is really coming out... enough so that his shoe and pant leg look like he is perpetually stepping in a bucket of water. He leaves a trail of this fluid everywhere he goes and if he stands in one spot for any length of time... a puddle forms.

My question is... what is this stuff? If I step in it or get it on my clothing, does it pose a risk to me or my family?

Also, there are people who think he should not be permitted to come to work while he is leaking this way. People are stepping in his puddles and fear that they are bringing this stuff home on their feet or iwhen they brush up against a chair he sat in and it gets on their pant leg.

Anyway, if his leakage is non-toxic, that is all well and good, but do the co-workers have to be subjected to such working conditions? I am sure it is less than sanitary-to say the least. Management is pretty much looking the other way at this point and no one wants to address the issue. I'm not asking for a termination here... maybe some workplace case law that deals with this topic of sickly co-workers contaminating the workplace...

Mar 18, 2010, 09:31 AM
I can't say for certain what exactly he's "leaking" but any bodily fluids should be avoided by others for safety's sake.

If its really as severe as leaving obvious wet areas around the office, something needs to be said. Do you have someone in HR you can speak with?

Mar 18, 2010, 10:21 AM
There are a lot of employees where I work. Everyone is pretty much offended and disgusted by it. I am sure "they" (HR, powers that be) are aware of the situation. No one seems to be doing anything about it.

Mar 18, 2010, 10:50 AM
Maybe HR isn't doing anything because no one has come right out and formally complained to them about it. I'd make a formal complaint.

Mar 18, 2010, 10:55 AM
People have complained. There is a mini coalition forming that is trying to get him put out on leave. It has been a month now though... nothing seems to work.

Mar 18, 2010, 11:09 AM
Have you talked to him about it? I know it's a touchy situation,and I'm not sure how you would bring it up. But maybe if he knew how you all felt he could go to the doctor himself and see why he is leaking. Ew. Also you can go to the labour board if your HR won't do anything about the situation. They may not be bale to do anything themselves, but they will point you in the right direction.

Mar 18, 2010, 02:07 PM
There is something called the Americans With Disabilities Act. Most likely nothing can be done about this due to that Act.

Mar 18, 2010, 04:01 PM
But what about the leaking bodily fluid part?

Mar 18, 2010, 04:18 PM
But what about the leaking bodily fluid part?

He should be seen and treated by a doctor. Now, HR can require that he see a doctor about this condition.

Mar 18, 2010, 05:33 PM
In my own opinion. It is a very very very low risk of any infection or disease spreading to other people if that is what your worried about. There needs to be perfect conditions for the spread. Like say you have open wounds and you happen to put his fluid on your open wounds then that is a way of transmission.

Honestly maybe the disgusting feelings you all are getting might be more about the weight , etc... This person has every right to work like everyone else, and quite honestly I commend him and others should for being there, because many people in that situaiton lay in bed all day and night and do not do anything with their life.

It is all in the way you think about it. So if they did try to get rid of him. There would be laws to support him and his right to work. Whether other people like it or not.

Mar 18, 2010, 05:41 PM
I agree with Joe. There is more of a risk to this man than there is to the employees.

What is happening is called third spacing and is more dangerous to his health than to yours. Personally, as a nurse, I'm more worried about him. He needs to have this seen to before he possibly loses that leg.

Mar 18, 2010, 05:43 PM
So what exactly is third spacing?

Mar 18, 2010, 05:46 PM
In a nutshell, in layman's terms, it's when there is too much fluid in an area and there is no place for it to go so it leaks out.

This employee obviously has edema (swelling due to increased fluids), and there is no other place for the fluids to go. He needs to be concerned about illnesses such as congenital heart failure due to the amount of fluid in his body.

Mar 18, 2010, 05:49 PM
Wow. Why is there so much liquid? Sorry I know I sound stupid, but that's crazy. I feel bad now.

Mar 18, 2010, 05:54 PM
Many times it's because the kidneys aren't functioning properly.

Mar 18, 2010, 05:55 PM
Yikes, that's scarry. And I bet he doesn't have insurance. Poor guy. :(

Mar 18, 2010, 05:58 PM
At least he is working... I hope and pray that this person does seek out some sort of medical care for his own sake.

I know about obesity and health problems not because of me, but I have witnessed another family member go downhill because of being morbidly obese. The only difference is that my family member does not do anything and lays in bed all day and night.

Mar 18, 2010, 06:01 PM
Wow. I had an aunt who was morbidly obese. Her Kidneys failed and she died in the only piece of furniture she owned. An over sized broken chair. I was really young when it happened, but I remember going to her funeral.

Apr 1, 2010, 06:55 AM
He has insurance. He is a glutton who cares more about eating than he does his family. He has been in poor health for 20 years. It is good to know that the leakage is nothing I need be concerned about... it is nasty though. I have no issues with obese people or morbidly obese people... to each their own. This guy has almost no standard for personal hygiene. Obese, skinny, tall, short, male, female... whatever you are, a slob is a slob and they have many shapes and sizes. Unwashed clothing... greasy hair... the whole 9. It is all just compounded by the leaky leg and squishy shoe.

Apr 9, 2010, 07:43 PM
If his ankles are leaking fluid as much as you say, he's probably on his last few miles. Have you ever watched the TV channel that specializes in obese people going into the hospital and having leaking ankles and other portions of their bodies? It's painful to watch, but most of those people are so overweight that basically their fluid is not properly flushed out of their bodies as their kidneys are in the process of failing. The more this guy ignores his leaking, the more prone he is to not waking up one day. He's obviously in denial about this and no prodding by HR, his wife, or anyone will make him seek medical help until he has his first total kidney failure or heart attack. Let's hope for his sake that he wakes up someday and decides to see the doctor and lose some weight and get well and thinner so he can live longer.

As for this fluid being harmful - unless he has hepititis or HIV or AIDS you should not have any problem catching anything.

Does he have any friends at your company who could take him aside and gently tell him he's slowly killing himself with both hands by letting his health seriously deteriorate as he has done? Maybe they could talk some sense into this guy. Maybe he's so depressed by his condition and hooked on food to drown his depression he can't see any way out of his own personal hell at this point.