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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Funding and manpower issues limit number of OSHA inspections

Los Angeles residents may be interested in a story detailing some of the manpower issues that one government workplace safety agency is facing. These issues stem from inadequate funding and may affect employees' safety on the job.

Even as workplace accident and injury cases have declined over the years, a large deficit remains in the prevention of future workplace injuries. Reports indicate that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is facing budget and staffing shortfalls that impede its ability to put a focus on prevention. Instead, the majority of OSHA's manpower is centered on responding in the wake of accidents. This response often takes the form of inspection and fines in connection with any violations found.

Fire in confined space injures worker in California

On Dec. 17, 2013, a 37-year-old worker was severely burned while working for a California company in a confined space, according to Cal/OSHA. A confined space is one that is defined as big enough for a worker to get in, but possessing limited exit and entry openings as well as the potential for danger from area and atmosphere.

On the date of the accident, the worker was inside a big steel tank and was spraying the interior with a flammable coating. A portable halogen light that he was using ignited a flash fire that caused serious burns. The worker was in the hospital burn unit for three days recovering after he was rescued from the tank.

Higher-risk workers do not see correspondingly higher pay

Los Angeles has its fair share of construction workers and truck drivers who pass through the area, and both of these professions are among the five most dangerous in the country, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers, farmers and ranchers and anglers occupy the other three most dangerous jobs based on fatal injury work rates.

Although employees in these professions are at a higher risk of death or injury, people in the fields of construction work or fishing earn about the same median pay as do secretaries or administrative assistants. Although aircraft pilots and flight engineers make more money than the national average, as do farmers and ranchers, these jobs require more education or experience and those with these jobs would likely be paid at a higher rate even if there was not a higher risk of accidents.

Busy California highway shut down due to construction accident

On June 18, three 50,000-pound steel beams fell onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 405 in an accident that shut down the busy highway in the Los Alamitos area and injured a worker, authorities reported. As part of a project to build a new overpass in the Rossmoor area, construction crews were setting the 130-foot beams into place when the accident occurred.

Authorities said that a beam on a crane tumbled onto the roadway after it knocked over two beams that had already been set in place. Reportedly, the injured construction worker was on the inchoate overpass when he too fell onto the interstate. While the extent of his injuries was not clear immediately following the incident, the injured man required immediate hospitalization.

California building explosion, fire burns 2 contractors

The Santa Monica Fire Department confirmed that a five-story building near the pier was involved in what appears to be an electrical explosion, which was followed by a fire. There were two contractors working on the building when the incident happened just before noon on June 10, and both were hospitalized for burn injuries.

The fire department reports that the two contractors were working in the basement where the explosion occurred. It took first responders only three minutes after being dispatched to find the pair. Firefighters were able to keep the explosion and fire contained. They also searched the area and ventilated it. No one was allowed to enter the building until crews from Southern California Edison arrived.

Workers die in California construction accident

Two construction workers who were helping to replace a bridge in California have died in a crane accident. The accident occurred outside of the town of Winters on May 30. Both men were in a basket attached to the crane when it fell some distance to the ground, resulting in their deaths. The owner of the construction company said that his workers take safety into account on a daily basis and that the two deceased men were like family.

The project to replace the bridge has been going on since September of 2013. The Winters Fire Department and several other organizations responded to the scene but determined that the men were already deceased when they got there. Although the accident occurred in the morning, it took them until the late afternoon to recover the bodies. The reason why the basket fell is unknown.

California construction worker crushed by rebar tower

An accident at a California construction site claimed the life of a 29-year-old man on May 20. The man was crushed by a falling rebar tower while working on the development of a new rental car facility near San Diego International Airport. The construction accident took place at approximately 8:45 a.m. near the intersection of West Washington Street and Pacific Highway in San Diego's Midway District.

According to Cal/OSHA, the man was a carpenter on the building project. He was reportedly wearing fall protection gear when he attached himself to a rebar column in preparation for a concrete pour. However, something went wrong during the pour, and the column began to topple. The man's coworkers say that they heard him cry for help, but they were unable to reach him before the rebar tower fell on top of him.

California fire creates concern about construction site safety

The charred 16,000 acres in San Bernardino left by the recent brush fire serves as yet another reminder of the threat such blazes pose to Californians every year as the weather turns hot. But as the flames were extinguished, the investigation into the source of the fire began to take precedence. Ultimately, investigators attributed the incident to a construction site accident that occurred when a backhoe caught fire at 4S Ranch.

While this conclusion answered the question of what caused that fire, it raised general questions about the circumstances that can lead to such horrible events. Specifically, what sorts of fire prevention plans are employed at construction sites?

California heat can be a construction worker’s foe

This being sunny California, most of us are familiar with symptoms of heat illness. Thirst, fatigue and dizziness can be good indicators that we have been in the sun for too long. These are signals we should all address immediately. This is especially true for construction workers, for whom the sun can be a relentless and draining foe.

Because of the threat of serious workplace injuries, construction workers simply cannot be allowed to suffer from heat illness. So much of their work places them in inherently vulnerable positions, such as on ladders, scaffoldings or at the controls of heavy machinery. One light-headed moment can lead to a fall from a great height or the slip of a hand holding a running saw or drill.

Automotive facility in California cited for industrial accident

Tesla, an automotive company that specializes in building electric cars, recently incurred fines totaling $89,000, issued by California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The fines were brought about by an investigation into an industrial accident, which happened last November at the company’s Fremont California facility. The accident resulted in several workplace injuries. Tesla was cited with seven safety violations. Of those violations, six were deemed as being serious.

The investigation was prompted by an incident involving a piece of machinery, which upon failing, began to spew molten metal. Some of the hot liquid metal flew onto the clothing of three workers. The workers’ clothes were in turn set ablaze, leading them to drop to the floor and roll out the flames.

Dixon & Daley, LLP

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