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Rancho Mirage Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

When do workplace injuries become 3rd-party cases?

As the California workforce grows, so does the number of serious and fatal workplace injuries. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says that all workplace accidents are preventable, and it is the responsibility of employers to provide safe work environments. They must also comply with safety standards, failing which might lead to third-party cases in which employers are accused of negligence.

When employers or other third-parties are found to have been grossly negligent in incidents that caused workplace fatalities, they might even face criminal charges. In one California case in 2012, a construction worker died in a caved-in trench. He was buried alive when the walls of a 12-foot trench collapsed.

Cal/OSHA regulations to prevent smoke-related workplace injuries

Following the massive 2018 wildfires, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is seeking emergency regulations to protect workers from smoke inhalation. The intention is to limit smoke-related workplace injuries. The special rules will apply to all workers who are exposed to smoke from wildfires.

The rules will not apply to emergency workers and wildfire fighters. Workers in enclosed buildings and vehicles will also be exempt. The rule specifies the Air Quality Index measurements at which the rules become effective, and other requirements include the issue of a wildfire smoke advisory by state, regional, local or federal agencies. Moreover, the possible exposure to wildfire smoke and damage to the health of workers must be realistic.

Cal/OSHA investigates 2 fatal workplace accidents in 2 weeks

On April 11, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health was informed about a crane collapse that caused a 53-year-old construction worker's death. This was the first of two fatal workplace accidents to which the safety agency was called during a two-week period. The second fatality occurred on Thursday, April 25.

In an incident that is deemed an industrial accident, a worker believed to be in his 40s died in Ventura County. According to the county fire department, a call to report an emergency came in at approximately 11:30 a.m. Rescue workers responded to the scene at which the caller said a man had fallen off a ladder that was 10-feet high. Reportedly, he was a roof worker, but the name of his employer was not reported.

Workers compensation injuries most common to bartenders

Southern California is undoubtedly a hot-spot for those who like to party. Coachella draws thousands of music and festival fans to our location every year. Along with all the warm weather and good vibes, comes the duties of a bartender to keep the party going. However, workers in this type of industry face a great amount of pressure to satisfy the demands of the patrons with little to no breaks.

The work of a bartender is demanding with the long-hours and fast-paced environment. It is high-stress in times of chaos but rewarding when collecting tips at the end of the night. Anyone in the service industry is at risk of experiencing a work-related accident or injury. The hope is that nothing will happen, but when and if something does, workers need to know what their rights are and how to seek help.

Workplace injuries: Cal/OSHA works on heat illness prevention

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reports that 74 outdoor workers suffered heat illness last year. One of the victims was a landscaper who lost his life. The agency is proactive in its quest to limit the number of heat-related workplace injuries this coming summer.

The early start with the program is to get employers in construction, landscaping and agriculture to acclimatize workers. This is to prepare workers who are used to working in temperatures in the range of 60 and 70 degrees, for the dangers of working in temperatures that could exceed 90 degrees. Workers who are new to these industries can also benefit from gradual exposure to outdoor heat.

Compliance with safety standards can prevent workplace injuries

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health require employers to provide safe work environments. The rules include the duty to provide adequate safety training and ongoing monitoring to ensure that workers do not become complacent and take shortcuts. One of the most frequently committed shortcuts that leads to many workplace injuries involves using the wrong tool for the job because it is handy and similar to the required tool.

The safety guidelines in each facility must be reviewed each year, and address new hazards posed by new and upgraded equipment, and all new employees must receive proper training. Another task to schedule is frequent machine inspections. Even if equipment seems to be running smoothly, certified professionals must inspect machines on due dates to prevent unanticipated malfunctions that could cause serious injuries.

Fatal workplace accidents fewer, but not in all industries

Employees in some industries in California and elsewhere might be wise to take extra precautions when it comes to on-the-job safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports fatal workplace accidents nationwide in 2017 claimed 43 fewer lives than in the previous year. The number of occupational deaths in California remained the same as in 2016.

The 43 fatalities represent only a 1 percent drop, and although deaths in the manufacturing and wholesale industries dropped significantly, other categories claimed more lives than in previous years. Analyses of the BLS data indicated that fatalities among workers who were 65 years or older were more than ever before, and it made up 15 percent of nationwide workplace deaths in 2017. The oil and gas extraction, quarrying and mining industries claimed 26 percent more lives than in 2016.

Removing safety guards can cause fatal workplace accidents

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently cited a ceramics manufacturer and proposed penalties exceeding $250,000. Investigators concluded that the employer committed willful violations that led to the death of a worker. The safety agency says that full compliance with prescribed standards can prevent workplace accidents and save lives.

The ceramics industry uses a pug mill machine in the clay manufacturing process. It is an industrial mixer that is typically fitted with safety guards to prevent workers from making contact with the rotating parts of the machine. After a worker lost his life when he was caught and pulled into the mixing blades of the pug mill last September, Cal/OSHA investigators determined that the safety guards of all four pug mills on-site had been removed.

Workplace injuries: Ergonomic toll on public safety workers

Public safety workers in California and other states are reported to be particularly vulnerable to certain injury types. Safety authorities say firefighters, EMTs and police officers suffer more musculoskeletal disorders and cardiovascular diseases than employees in other industries. Also, these public safety workers are often involved in auto crashes and incidents of workplace violence that cause workplace injuries.

Injury data indicates that the average number of lost workdays caused by musculoskeletal disorders in other industries is 13, while firefighters lose 15, correctional officers lose 24 and law enforcement officers lose 27 median days per year. When it comes to cardiovascular diseases, the stress experienced by public safety workers is suspected of increasing the risks of heart attacks, diabetes and hypertension. Authorities say the typical trauma and stress experienced by these workers during every shift are many times the levels suffered by other workers over time. Over half of the on-the-job fatalities among firefighters involve cardiovascular diseases.

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