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Rancho Mirage Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Fatal fall could trigger workers' compensation death benefits

When a life is lost in a work-related accident, the surviving family members are typically eligible for death benefits through the state-regulated insurance system. The California workers' compensation program pays survivors' benefits to help families cope with the expenses related to end-of-life arrangements. A financial package might be included to cover day-to-day living expenses and financial obligations like rental or mortgage.

One such a claim will likely be filed by the surviving family members of a worker who recently died at the construction site of an Amazon fulfillment center in another state. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported the launch of an investigation into the tragic accident. According to a police report, the incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. on a recent Wednesday.

Firefighters face high risks of workplace injuries and fatalities

The National Fire Protection Association reports that the average number of on-duty deaths of firefighters in California and across the country has remained steady at 70 per year, although the number was below 70 through the past five years. Some of the incidents in which firefighters suffered fatal workplace injuries in 2018 include two wildfires in which four firefighters died and a collapsing floor in a structure fire that claimed two more lives. Two fatalities occurred in a crash when firefighters responded to an automobile accident.

However, the average reported number of on-duty deaths does not include indirect loss of lives among firefighters. Studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health indicate that these workers face multiple workplace hazards that can lead to chronic illnesses. The primary risks include cardiovascular conditions and cancer, both of which have claimed the lives of many firefighters.

Solar panel installer suffers serious workplace injuries

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently cited a solar panel installation company after concluding an investigation into an incident that occurred last December. A 15-foot fall resulting in serious workplace injuries gave rise to the investigation. Cal/OSHA proposed fines of almost $194,000 and a citation for a serious safety violation among others.

According to the investigators, three workers who were not equipped with fall protection were involved in the installation of solar panels on the roof of a home. When one worker lost his footing, he fell about 15 feet to the concrete driveway below. The worker suffered fractures to his jaw and wrist. Falls from roofs and other elevated work areas without protective equipment to arrest them often result in death or permanent disabilities for workers.

Cal/OSHA issues new warnings for heat-related workplace injuries

Following warnings of high temperatures in California by the National Weather Service, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reminded employers of their responsibility to protect workers from known hazards. Having a prevention plan to prevent heat-related workplace injuries is one of the requirements included in the Cal/OSHA safety standards. By assessing each employee's level of risk based on his or her duties and exposure to heat, appropriate steps can prevent heat illness.

Among those most vulnerable are workers in the construction injury, along with agricultural workers and landscapers. Other at-risk workers are groundskeepers, security guards and others who spend significant parts of their workdays outdoors. Delivery truck drivers and other transportation employees who spend most of their work hours in vehicles that are not air-conditioned can also be overcome by heat exhaustion.

Forklift accidents can cause permanent or temporary disability

Although the sixth annual National Forklift Safety Day was held on June 11, safety authorities remind employers that it is not a single-day problem. Forklift accidents in California and other states claim lives and cause permanent or temporary disability throughout the year. The day of emphasis is there to underscore the importance of compliance with state and federal safety standards, and to remind employers to provide safety training and enforce safety rules.

Forklifts come in different sizes and are designed for various tasks or operations, and operators must receive training for each type of vehicle that they will operate. This includes training to do daily inspections, and the workers must be familiar with the areas in which they will operate the lift trucks. Refresher training and evaluation at scheduled intervals to make sure operators remain able to do this dangerous job is crucial.

Construction workers' accidents involving trenches could be fatal

From June 17 to June 21, safety authorities will reinforce the importance of compliance with trench-related safety regulations. During the Trench Safety Stand Down, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will remind employers and employees of the potential hazards that could cause severe or fatal construction workers' accidents. The agency reports that more than 50 lives are lost in trench collapses nationwide each year, including California.

Trench collapses are the primary hazards that can be prevented by implementing systems that involve sloping, shoring or shielding. The designated competent person must determine the method to be used after evaluating soil stability, weather conditions and more. Toxic atmospheres in trenches with depths exceeding four feet has claimed many lives, and frequent testing for harmful gases or oxygen depletion is crucial. If necessary, workers must be equipped with properly fitted respirators.

Young agricultural workers can face a myriad of potential dangers

As a teenager taking an agricultural job this summer, your employer will be responsible for your safety and health. In turn, you are responsible for following the safety protocols set in place by your employer. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has strict safety standards to protect you.

Along with overexertion that is reportedly the primary cause of injuries in agribusiness comes heat-related illnesses, skin disorders, respiratory diseases, chemical toxicity, hearing loss, and even some types of cancers. Being prepared and learning about the dangers you will encounter and how to mitigate them can prove invaluable to your well-being and safety.

Will workers' compensation cover bacterial infections?

No one should be exposed to conditions that are so unsanitary that workers are infected with bacteria that cause typhoid fever. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued a fine that exceeds $5,000 after inspecting workplace conditions to which Los Angeles Police Department officers were exposed. Reportedly, some officers were diagnosed with Salmonella Typhi. The investigation took place last November, and their medical expenses will likely be covered by workers' compensation claims.

LAPD officers have to deal with the risks of being injured or shot while they are out trying to keep the city streets safe. They also have to deal with exposure to rats, trash and other hazards while working in unsanitary encampments. Cal/OSHA says employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees, and as a part of that duty, workers must be informed about potential hazards, how to recognize the risks and how to protect themselves.

Third-party cases: Settlement offered to injured Tesla worker

Many questions have been asked about employee safety at Tesla plants over recent years. The subject of the company's compliance with state and federal safety standards is in the news once again after it offered an injured worker a settlement of $13 million in a civil suit. Although the California workers' compensation is typically the only recourse for workplace accident victims, certain circumstances allow them to file third-party cases in a civil court.

According to the complaint, a janitorial worker, who was placed at the Fremont Tesla plant by a company that provides facility services, suffered injuries that caused permanent disabilities. Court documents indicate that a European Tesla struck her while she was cleaning the warehouse floor. The driver of the car was an employee of a staffing agency who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with Tesla.

Beware of hazards that cause workplace injuries on summer jobs

With the imminent end of the school year, thousands of high school and college students in California will be looking forward to reporting for their summer jobs. This could be the ideal start of a planned career or just a way of earning an income, but workers must never lose sight of safety hazards that could lead to workplace injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to prioritize employee safety, regardless of the age or level of experience of workers.

The safety agency reminds young workers that they are entitled to safe and healthy work environments. Employees have the right to be informed of potential safety hazards and to receive adequate safety training to learn how to stay safe. Training must include the how and when of personal protective equipment, and employees must never fail to wear it. Workers must feel free to ask questions if they are unsure of anything, and they must not hesitate to report injuries or unsafe circumstances.

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