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Rancho Mirage Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace injuries prevention alongside a robotic colleague

Working alongside cobots, aka collaborative robots, will soon be par for the course in manufacturing facilities in California. Robotic technology has come a long way since the first robot was installed in a General Motors plant in the 1960s. That was a monstrous, caged machine that followed human commands. In contrast, cobots share the workspaces of humans and perform memorized tasks. They can even be programmed to respond to what is happening around them -- but will they pose a threat of workplace injuries?

Because of the interaction between collaborative robots and their human colleagues, they are not isolated behind cages. Safety measures include manipulator arms that are lightweight to prevent serious injury if there is contact. They are fitted with force and proximity sensors, 3D cameras and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors to ensure safe interaction with humans.

8,000 pounds of granite slabs cause major workplace injuries

Any California worker who is unable to return to work for a long time after an on-the-job injury will likely be concerned about the financial consequences because, along with regular bills, there will now also be medical bills with which to cope. A delivery man miraculously survived an incident that caused him major workplace injuries. Reportedly, the incident occurred in Santa Rosa on a recent Thursday.

According to the battalion chief of the fire department, calls for help came in from a ceramic tile business shortly after 1 p.m. Firefighters rushed to the scene to find a delivery man trapped under approximately 8,000 pounds of granite slabs. While unloading the slabs from the truck, six of them somehow slipped off and landed on top of the worker.

Electrical workplace injuries suffered during elevator repairs

Electrical workers in California face many deadly hazards on every shift they work. Some workplace injuries are caused by the failure of employers to comply with the safety regulations as prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Causes can include companies allowing unqualified employees to do electrical work, failure to provide appropriate training or failure to enforce compliance by employees.

Sometimes, when electrical accidents cause workers' injuries, answers only become available when the OSHA inspectors investigate the incidents to find the cause and determine whether the violation of safety regulations was to blame. One such accident recently occurred while two workers repaired the electrical system of a freight elevator. Under yet to be determined circumstances, the employees were injured, and the incident also set off the fire alarm.

Silicosis: Will workers' compensation benefits be hard to get?

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health implemented the new Respirable Crystalline Standard for Construction this month which will require employers to take specific steps to protect workers against occupational illnesses such as silicosis and other lung diseases. But what are the symptoms of silicosis? When it comes to workers' compensation benefits claims, how difficult will it be to prove that silicosis resulted from on-the-job exposure years earlier?

In many cases, silicosis develops years after the person was exposed to silica dust, and some victims only realize the problem when it is too late to prevent it. Experiencing shortness of breath which worsens with physical exertion could be an indicator along with persistent, severe coughing, chest pains and a bluish tinge to the skin with dark spots developing in the person's nail beds. Rapid breathing and fever are also symptoms, as are the lack of appetite and weight loss. As the disease takes hold, it will continue to limit lung functionality, eventually leaving the worker reliant on oxygen-supplying support.

The number of fatal construction workers' accidents alarming

Safety training is said to be one of the most important aspects in protecting workers on construction sites nationwide, including in California. Based on the data of construction workers' accidents released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this industry remains the most hazardous industry in the country. Statistic show that 937 construction workers died on the job in 2015.

What causes alarm is the fact that this number represents over 21 percent of all fatalities across all industries in 2015. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, fatalities on construction sites are primarily caused by four types of accidents. These include falls, caught in or between, electrocution and struck by objects. Authorities say that 602 lives can be saved annually by eliminating these four accident causes.

What if workers' compensation benefits for hantavirus are denied?

A 22-year-old man who worked at Bodie State Historic Park -- a historical landmark in Mono County -- contracted a rare disease during that time. He was left fighting for his life in a hospital, suspecting that it was caused by exposure to rodents at the facility. Although he can file California workers' compensation benefits claims, proving the illness to be work-related may be challenging.

The man was diagnosed with hantavirus, which is one of the several viruses of a group carried by rodents that can spread it to humans to cause diseases like hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Hantaviruses can become airborne during activities such as cleaning up mouse droppings and urine. When the airborne viruses are inhaled, they cause capillaries in the lungs to break, causing the lungs to be filled with fluids.

Workplace accidents that cause amputations are devastating

It is difficult to understand how employers can knowingly expose their employees to hazards that can cause life-changing injuries. Workplace accidents that cause amputation injuries because business owners do not want to spend money on safety devices are unacceptable. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently reported that it had completed an investigation into a January incident when an on-the-job accident caused a worker to lose three fingers.

Cal/OSHA issued seven citations -- some of them for willful violations -- and proposed penalties totaling almost $143,000. However, none of these will give back the three fingers that the worker lost because his employer failed to fit the proper safety devices that would have protected him from injury. Reportedly, the employee's hand was caught in a punch press during the manual loading of products into the unguarded press.

Occupational back injuries known for causing temporary disability

Workers in California may be surprised to learn that the only workplace injury or illness that is more common than back injury is the common cold. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says over 1 million workers nationwide suffer the consequences of back injuries -- accounting for almost 20 percent of all workplace illnesses and injuries. Many work hours and wages are lost due to temporary disability caused by back injuries.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends implementation of ergonomic programs that can effectively reduce strain and sprain hazards. Ergonomics involve fitting the design of a job, the workplace and the equipment to the employee. Promoting back safety can prevent or limit overstretched muscles, torn ligaments and herniated disks.

Construction workers' accidents can be traumatic experiences

Construction sites in California pose a myriad of hidden dangers that can cause serious injuries. While there are many known safety hazards, unanticipated incidents are often reported. For that reason, risk assessment by knowledgeable professionals must continue throughout building projects. Unforeseen construction workers' accidents can have devastating consequences.

When a concrete wall unexpectedly collapsed at a construction site in Santa Barbara County on a recent Monday, two workers became trapped. Fortunately, coworkers were able to extract them quickly. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department says the men were no longer pinned by rubble when paramedics arrived.

Workplace accidents: Forklift risks underscored by worker's death

Business owners in California are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Safety training must be provided to all workers to ensure the prevention of workplace accidents. Furthermore, those who are tasked with operating dangerous equipment such as forklifts must be properly qualified to do so, and even then, they must comply with safety regulations.

The dangers posed by forklifts are not always recognized -- often with devastating consequences. A tragic incident involving a forklift recently claimed the life of a 35-year-old employee at a construction site in Lafayette. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the accident but provided little information about the circumstances that lead to the worker's death.

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