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Rancho Mirage Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Struck-by hazards cause many construction workers' accidents

Hazards that pose severe threats are present on every building site. The California Division of Safety and Health requires each employer to provide work environments that are free of known hazards and safety training to ensure that workers are aware of potential dangers and know how to prevent construction workers' accidents that could injure themselves and others. Struck-by hazards are a significant threat to workers at ground level.

There will always be falling objects, flying debris and moving equipment that can strike workers at ground level. For that reason, toe boards and rails are essential on elevated areas, and tools and other objects must be tied down or kept in tool belts to prevent them from falling. The ideal situation is to barricade the areas below scaffolds to keep those areas clear of workers.

Workers' compensation: Stress causes PTSD in first responders

According to a recently published article, the work environments of first responders nationwide, including California, put them at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Sleep deprivation, fatigue, low nutrition and trauma are par for the course for emergency services workers, leading to many workers' compensation claims. The buildup occurs because many first responders do not talk about the trauma at work, nor do they seek help. Instead, many let off steam when they get home, which might cause family problems.

Emergency medical workers, police officers and firefighters have to deal with destruction and death every day. They hear and see things that would be too much for most individuals, and they never know what the next call might bring. During one shift they deal with the worst moments in the lives of others. They could come across a decapitated body on one call and find a dead infant on the next call. And then, when they expect the worst, the next call might be an addict faking pain to get medication.

Climate change increases risks of workplace injuries

California was the first state to establish safety standards to protect outdoor workers from excessive heat exposure. Safety authorities suggest that California might also be the first to set safety limits for indoor workers. Heat-related workplace injuries could be deadly, and the heat levels in California over recent years have been higher than ever, causing concern over the impact of climate change on hundreds of thousands of indoor workers.

Reportedly, tests were done by giving heat sensors to workers in industries that included canneries, car washes, garment factories, warehouses and more. The results indicated that most employees in buildings without air conditioning spend approximately 50 percent of their shifts in heat that exceeds the proposed standards. Safety authorities say some of the workers recorded late-night and morning heat levels that were dangerously high.

Third-party cases can give injured workers extra compensation

California victims of work-related injuries are typically entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The same applies to the surviving family members of employees who suffered fatal on-the-job injuries. However, the state-regulated insurance program typically pays benefits that are limited to medical expenses or end-of-life costs along with a portion of lost wages. Third-party cases could be filed if the injury or death resulted from the negligence of  third parties not linked to the same employer. In those circumstances additional financial relief might be obtained through the civil justice system.

Depending on the factors that led to the death of a Southern California employee at the John Wayne Airport, a third-party lawsuit might be viable. A spokesperson for the airport reports that the incident occurred in one of the workshops on a recent Tuesday. It happened while two workers were busy working on a tire on one of the company's jet bridges.

Workers' compensation: Considerations to ensure crane safety

Construction sites pose an endless list of safety hazards, most of which are covered in the safety regulations prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Some of the many workers' compensation claims filed by construction workers involve injuries suffered in circumstances that involved cranes. Even though these machines come in different sizes, they all pose injury threats, and compliance with safety standards requires consideration of three environmental factors.

Ground condition analysis is crucial to accommodate the weight and size of most cranes. The construction company owner or contractor is typically responsible for ensuring that the ground is firm, graded and drained sufficiently to support blocking, mats and the crane. Furthermore, it is crucial for the operator to be fully informed about all the hazards that are present underground like utilities. Although it is not unusual for crane operators to work in all weather conditions, the importance of how the weather can affect the ground stability must not be overlooked. Extreme weather can cause a crane to overturn.

Construction workers' accidents are preventable

California employers must address safety hazards in the workplace. And yet, construction workers' accidents claim thousands of lives each year. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says most, if not all, workplace accidents are preventable through compliance with prescribed safety standards and a designating competent person to identify and rectify injury risks.

Construction sites are high-risk operations, in which the most hazardous areas require particular caution. Workers on scaffolds face multiple hazards, including falls and being struck by falling objects, along with electrocutions if the scaffolding is near overhead power lines. Electrocutions can happen anywhere on construction sites, through direct or indirect contact with a power source. Multilevel construction projects have workers at different elevations, increasing the risk of being struck by falling objects like building materials, tools and even beams.

Workplace accidents: Worker airlifted after tractor rollover

Working on and around tractors pose multiple hazards on farms and any other industrial facilities where these vehicles are used. California employers are responsible for the safety and health of their employees, and this responsibility includes providing adequate safety training and ensuring that only qualified operators use these vehicles. Unfortunately, not all employees receive the necessary protection, and preventable workplace accidents happen.

An emergency call was recently received by authorities in Paloma, reporting an incident in which a worker was run over by a tractor. The call came in at about 1:30 p.m., and rescue workers rushed to the scene, which was just off Highway 26. Upon arrival, paramedics discovered that the tractor had rolled over, landing on top of the worker. No information was immediately available about the circumstances that led to the incident.

Can a competent person prevent construction workers' accidents?

Any construction site in California must have a so-called designated competent person, and a safety inspector could ask anyone on-site to identify that person. What qualifies a person to have this designation? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no established standards for this, and it is up to the employer to choose an employee to play that role to prevent industrial or construction workers' accidents

The presence of a competent person is required on sites at which scaffolding, excavations, hazardous materials, machine guarding, electrical work and other dangerous jobs are done. That person is expected to have a level of knowledge, experience and skills that will enable him or her to identify potential severe injury or fatality risks. Furthermore, the individual must have the authority to implement the necessary actions to mitigate the hazards.

Workplace accidents: Fatal fall at Amazon warehouse

The safety of workers at Amazon facilities has been the subject of many discussions in recent months. Workplace accidents at this company's warehouses have caused many injuries and even deaths nationwide. The most recent incident claimed a worker's life at a California facility.

According to an accident report, the fire department of Kent County received an emergency call at about 3 p.m. on a recent Saturday. Emergency workers rushed to an Amazon facility at which a construction project was underway. They arrived to find a worker who had fallen from a steel structure of which the height is unknown. Sadly, the 42-year-old iron worker succumbed to his injuries before he could be transported to a medical facility.

Workplace accidents: Car falls from jack, crushes worker to death

Learning that a loved one suffered a fatal on-the-job injury is not something wished on anybody. Workplace accidents happen at any time, and a California family had to deal with such trauma as they greeted the New Year. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, they responded to a Sun Valley business after receiving an emergency call at about 8 a.m. on Dec. 31.

Upon arrival, first responders found a worker who was trapped underneath a car that had fallen off the floor jack on which it was raised. Although the rescue workers managed to extricate the worker from under the vehicle quickly, he had already succumbed to his injuries. The company reported that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health had been informed of the fatality.

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