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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workers say aerial chemical spray made them sick

A group of construction workers in California say they were sickened after being sprayed with pesticides. The incident took place in Sutter County in July when a helicopter pilot who was conducting aerial agriculture spraying flew close to a construction work site. The 10 workers who were affected by the pesticide spraying say they suffered from chemical pneumonia, continue to experience migraines and now require inhalers.

The same group of workers sustained further workplace injuries in September when a plane dropped whitewash on a walnut orchard near their work site. After visiting the hospital, three of the men obtained medical documents stating that they had suffered from chemical exposure. According to the group, chemical mist from the plane drifted over to their work area.

Back problems and workers' compensation

As many as one million workers report experiencing back pain annually, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Back pain is the second leading cause of people missing work. Around $11 billion is paid out to cover workers' compensation expenses for back pain alone. California workers might be interested to know that the tasks people perform at work are thought to be a significant factor in the development of back problems.

Around 60 percent of injuries to the lower back are believed to be caused by overexertion. Excess stretching of the back muscles could lead to muscle strain or a pulled muscles. Strain is the most common issue. However, OSHA has identified several work-related risk factors for lower back injury. Some of the most dangerous factors include poor posture, falls, repeated back trauma, performing heavy physical work, and improper movements, such as lifting or carrying objects. People who have to lift heavy objects could be at a greater risk for injury. Once injured, muscles and connective tissue are more susceptible to another injury.

Injured California workers may be eligible for compensation

When a California worker is injured while on the job, their employer is obligated to provide workers' compensation benefits regardless of if the injuries occurred over an extended period of time or because of a single event, such as falling off a ladder. It's important for California workers to be knowledgeable about the benefits they can potentially receive.

If an illness or injury happens while working, blood tests, medicine, doctor visits and other medical expenses might be paid for by the employer. If a worker suffers fatal injuries, their family members or loved ones may be eligible to receive death benefits.

Employee compensation following construction injury accidents

All California employers are required by law to provide a nonhazardous environment for their employees, yet accidents still occur. This is especially true in the construction industry, where injuries may be caused by dangerous site conditions, heavy equipment, construction tools or repetitive motion required by the work. Those who have been injured while working construction may not even know who is responsible, which can make pursuit of workers' compensation benefits more difficult.

In addition to the general contractor and the site owner, there may be subcontractors and independent contractors associated with a job. Any of these parties may potentially have responsibility for an injury to a worker. The attorneys and staff at Dixon & Daley, LLP, have experience pursuing recovery for injured construction workers. We understand the operation of workers' compensation law, and its interaction with the other laws of the state of California. We will examine the facts of your injury case to identify the proper avenues for recovery.

OSHA and hazardous materials

California workers may benefit from reviewing some of the U.S. Department of Labor's information on handling chemical hazards and toxic substances. These materials are considered to cause physical hazards that include corrosion, reactivity and flammability. The materials are often hazardous to the health as well, typically by increasing carcinogenicity, sensitization and irritation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the authority responsible for ensuring employers adequately inform workers about the safety risks located in workplace.

OSHA also requires employers to provide the appropriate equipment to properly protect workers from hazardous risks. The agency's Hazard Communication Standard requires employers to display information that identifies and explains the safety risks associated with hazardous chemicals used at the workplace. In addition, importers are required to provide safety data sheets, evaluations and information on any hazardous chemicals in shipment. Employers are required to properly train workers to safely use hazardous materials and protect themselves from suffering preventable harm as well.

Medical care under California's workers' compensation law

Workers who have been injured on the job are entitled to evidence-based medical treatment under California workers' compensation laws' doctors must recommend and perform medical treatments that have been proven scientifically effective for the work injury or illness. To that end, medical professionals rely on California's medical treatment utilization schedule, which provides guidelines regarding the type, intensity, frequency and duration of treatment for a large number of work injuries.

The guidelines were made part of the workers' compensation law in 2003, but they apply even to cases that were settled before then. The result is that the MTUS may be utilized in any case, but the assigned claims administrator may continue payment for treatments the patient has become accustomed to for his or her injury in cases decided before 2003.

The basics of California workers' compensation

California employers and employees both have certain rights and responsibilities related to work-related safety issues and injuries caused on or by the job. Both have obligations toward maintaining a safe working environment. However, when an employee is injured because of work, he or she is entitled to certain benefits under workers' compensation regardless of who is at fault.

Injured employees must report the injury to their supervisors as soon as either the injury occurs or it is first discovered. For example, if a worker develops a repetitive stress injury over the course of several months, that worker would not have a specific incident to prompt the notice to the employer. Rather, the employee would report the work-related injury as soon as he or she learns of the condition. To report the injury or illness, employees must complete the Workers' Compensation Claim Form promptly. Submission of the form to the employer initiates a case and aids in obtaining all applicable benefits guaranteed under state law.

California bill to protect temporary workers

Assembly bill 1897 passed the California legislature on Aug. 28, bringing it one step closer to being made law. The bill would establish penalties for companies whose temporary workers are cheated by the subcontractors and temp agencies that are technically their employers.

The bill was introduced after a 2013 investigation by news organization ProPublica indicated that temporary workers faced a higher risk of suffering on-the-job injuries than other workers and that some were being paid less than minimum wage after adjustment for fees that came out of the workers' pockets. Supporters of the legislation include the California Labor Federation and the Teamsters union.

Cal/OSHA says LAX worker's death was preventable

After an investigation by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or Cal/OSHA, the death of a California airport worker was determined to be the result of employer safety violations. The 51-year-old man suffered fatal workplace injuries at Los Angeles International Airport when he was thrown from a tow tractor and pinned beneath a tire. At the time, the man was working for Menzies Aviation and operating the vehicle with no seat belt in place.

When a Cal/OSHA safety inspector visited LAX to look into the cause of the accident, several tow tractor drivers were seen working without seat belts. After looking through a written safety guide maintained by Menzies Aviation, Cal/OSHA determined that workers were not required to wear seat belts while driving around aircraft parking areas and airport gates pulling luggage and cargo trailers.

Help from a Whittier construction accident lawyer

California law mandates that all employers provide a safe work environment that is free from unreasonable hazards. These laws also apply to construction companies. When an employee is injured at a California job site, Dixon & Daley, LLP, is available to assist with filing a workers' compensation claim. Dixon & Daley, LLP, focuses its practice on the Southern California area.

Due to the dangerous nature involved in the construction industry, employees who are hurt may suffer catastrophic injury. An employee may fall from substantial heights while working on scaffolding or be permanently injured due to an equipment malfunction. In order to prevail with a workers' compensation claim, an intensive examination of all supporting evidence could be conducted in order to bolster the case. This may require an attorney to review medical records, witness reports and accident reports. In some situations, expert testimony may be sought in order to determine which party was at fault for the accident.

Dixon & Daley, LLP

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