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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace injury statistics in 2013

California residents may be interested to learn that in 2013, the number of workplace injuries continued a trend demonstrating an overall reduction in their incidence. The year brought three million reported work-related injuries and illnesses across the country, which, while high, is a significant decline from those injured in the previous year.

According to a survey study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers declined in 2013. Similarly, the incidence of more serious cases involving missed work, resulting work restrictions or injuries necessitating a job transfer also declined.

Training improves electrical safety for workers

In California, construction, maintenance, agricultural and other workers are exposed to the risk of injury or death from electrical accidents. Construction accidents pose the greatest risk of electrical fatalities. Suchworkers comprise 38 percent of fatalities from electrical accidents. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been significant improvement in electrical safety over the past 20 years.

According to BLS statistics, fatal electrical injuries have dropped by over 50 percent since 1992. Non-fatal injuries from electrical accidents have shown even greater improvement, dropping over 60 percent over the same time-span. The Electrical Safety Foundation International states that improvement in electrical safety can be realized through training for people in high-risk industries.

California worker's injury required amputation

A construction worker was seriously injured in an accident on the evening of Nov. 13 at a work site along state Highway 4 in Antioch. The worker suffered a severe leg injury during the accident, which ultimately required amputation of the limb.

According to information released by the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety, the construction site accident occurred around 6:30 p.m. at a work site near the Hillcrest Avenue exit along Highway 4. When emergency crews arrived at the scene shortly after, they found a worker caught in an auger that was being used to bore holes in the ground. The worker had reportedly lost his footing and became entangled in the running auger's rotating screw blade. Once rescuers had freed the worker from the auger, he was transported by air to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek for treatment.

4 workers killed by chemical leak, 1 injured

In California, workplace accidents can involve many types of dangers in addition to the classic equipment or fall hazards. As illustrated by a recent and sobering case out of Texas, workers are sometimes killed or injured while working around and with hazardous substances, such as chemicals.

The incident in Texas occurred at a DuPont chemical plant outside of Houston on Nov. 15. At least five workers were exposed to a chemical used in insecticides, fungicides and as an agent to add smell to natural gas. Neighbors to the plant indicated they had smelled a chemical smell. DuPont officials apparently told local law enforcement authorities that the chemical dissipates quickly in air and was harmless.

The dangers of asbestos in the workplace

California workers may benefit from learning more about the dangers asbestos exposure can present at the workplace. The microscopic particles that make up asbestos are easily inhaled and cause asbestosis, an inflammatory condition in the lungs that may lead to scaring, coughing and shortness of breath. The primary symptom of asbestos exposure is shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include tightness in the chest, loss of appetite, chest pain, persistent cough accompanied by mucus or a dry cough accompanied by sounds from the lungs.

Exposure to asbestos may also cause lung cancer or other similar problems. Researchers have discovered an association between asbestos and cancer located in the bladder, brain, kidney, throat and gastrointestinal tract. Even though federal regulations have minimized its use in recent years, asbestos can still be found in many household items and within many commercial buildings.

Alleged drunk driver hit and killed construction worker

According to the California Highway Patrol, a suspected drunk driver struck and killed a construction worker in the early morning hours of Oct. 27. The accident took place around midnight in a construction zone on eastbound Highway 68 in Salinas. The family of the construction worker, who was employed by Bay Area Traffic Solutions, may be entitled to benefits under workers' compensation. The driver was taken into police custody on suspicion of DUI. He was booked into the Monterey County Jail.

The driver reportedly drove through the cones marking the construction zone, passed another vehicle and struck the construction worker, according to officers. The driver allegedly did not stop and continued on for around half a mile. Witnesses stayed with the driver until emergency personnel arrived at the accident scene.

Herniated cervical discs and workers' compensation

Injuries to the back are not uncommon in the workplace. People in California who hurt their backs at work may be eligible for workers' compensation to cover their expenses during recovery. One potential back problem workers could develop is a herniated disc. As workers age, they might become more susceptible to this type of injury.

A herniated cervical disc could cause a range of sensations in the arms or shoulders, and in rare cases in the legs as well. These sensations might include pain, tingling or numbness in the affected area. A difference in strength or reflexes could indicate a disc herniation. The symptoms occur because a displaced disc has slipped out of alignment and is pressing against nerves. Nerves are responsible for sending messages throughout the body, such as letting the brain know that an area of the body is experiencing pain or discomfort. Since discs reside between the spinal vertebra and nerves travel from the spinal cord throughout the body, pressure from a disc might register as pain somewhere nearby.

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.