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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Avoiding heat-related workplace injuries on the farm

The temperatures are rising here in California, and many people remain outdoors while they perform their on-the-job duties. For instance, those who work on farms here in the state often spend long hours outside. The threat of heat-related workplace injuries needs to be addressed by employers and employees alike.

Most California employers take their responsibilities to workers seriously when it comes to heat-related illnesses. However, managers, supervisors and employees are all human, which means that costly mistakes could occur. It never hurts to run through the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's regulations regarding the matter.

Avoiding potential workplace injuries on communication towers

Back in the 1980s, cell phones and other electronic devices that rely on communication towers were not in nearly every household here in California and across the country. With the technological explosion that occurred in later decades, the need for such towers increased exponentially. This means that the number of severe or fatal workplace injuries suffered by communication tower workers increased as well.

Workers often work at heights ranging from 100 feet tall to an astounding 2,000 feet tall. The risks to them are numerous, but the most often seen include falls, electrical hazards and falling objects. Additional hazards arise from equipment failures, structural collapses and inclement weather. Anytime personnel or equipment are hoisted up a tower, there is a risk of injury or death as well.

Refineries now subject to new rules after 2012 workplace injuries

Most California residents who work in the oil and gas industry probably remember the incident at the Chevron refinery back in 2012. After the fire, chemical release and workplace injuries suffered in that disaster, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health began reviewing the need to change the process regarding safety management standards as they apply to the chemical processes of refineries. Recently, those new standards were finalized.

Refineries must now regularly check all equipment and materials for degradation. All safety hazards must be identified, analyzed and ranked according to risk. Thereafter, written safeguards and safety measures must be put into place to account for those hazards with the most dangerous ones to be taken care of first. Any safeguards put into place require review to determine whether they are effective.

Why you should not wait to go to the doctor after a work injury

If you have ever put off medical treatment, you are not alone. The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that about one-third of respondents in a nationwide survey avoided the doctor. It is estimated that many people wait 18.5 days or more before getting help for a chronic health issue. Avoidance of medical care occurs for many different reasons. Sometimes, there are financial or time barriers. About 10 percent of the participants in the survey said they didn't think medical treatment was necessary, as they expected the condition to improve.

If you wait to get treatment for a work-related injury, you could lose workers' compensation benefits.

You may need help obtaining workers' compensation benefits

Every California worker's job comes with some sort of risk to your health and well-being. Serious and/or debilitating injuries can occur in any line of work. If you do suffer such an injury, you will undoubtedly consider obtaining workers' compensation benefits to help you with your medical needs and lost wages. The problem is that your employer and the insurance company may do whatever possible to either delay or deny your claim.

Whether you were involved in a workplace accident in which you suffered a serious injury such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or some other injury, you deserve benefits. The same is true for those who suffer from repetitive motion injuries, cumulative injuries or illnesses whose symptoms fail to appear for years. The key is that the illness or injury was the result of your work.

Fatal construction injury was preventable -- companies cited

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health outline specific guidelines for working in confined spaces. Without the proper safety precautions, a fatal construction injury could occur. When that happens, Cal/OSHA comes in, conducts an investigation and determines whether any citations against one or more companies are appropriate.

Cal/OSHA recently completed an investigation regarding a death at a construction site last October. Reports indicate that a construction worker was sent down into a drainage shaft to clear out debris and mud. He was lowered 10 feet into the 4.5 foot diameter concrete shaft. At some point, he lost consciousness due to poor ventilation and lack of fresh air. He then plummeted 40 feet into a foot of water in which he drowned.

Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome

One of the most common musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which occur in an office environment is carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in which the median nerve in the wrist is compressed when the tendons around the nerve swell or thicken. OSHA has noted that many work-related MSDs are preventable through ergonomics, and MSDs, which include muscle strains, rotator cuff injuries and tendinitis, are the most frequently reported cause of lost and restricted work time.

What are the factors?

The incidence of MSDs in the workplace depends on many different factors, such as the work position, the worker's posture, the task and level of effort. Although typing is a big cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, there are other risk factors, such as: 

  • Performing the same tasks repeatedly or for an extended period of time
  • Working in an awkward position; for example, leaning over a counter or having to reach overhead repeatedly
  • Cold temperatures, such as working in a chilled environment
  • Localized pressure on a part of the body, such as pressing the hand against a sharp edge, like a keyboard
  • Vibration of the hand and arm or the whole body; for example, using a drill or grinder

Did toxic exposure cause railroad worker's cancer?

Working in every industry comes with certain hazards that could cause injury to employees from California and elsewhere. In some instances, that includes exposure to chemicals and other toxic substances. Sometimes, the effects of toxic exposure occur immediately, but in other cases, it can take years for the damage to appear. Perhaps the most famous example is exposure to asbestos, which causes often fatal medical consequences for those exposed, but it could take years before any symptoms are seen.

The injuries suffered by railroad workers do not fall within the traditional workers' compensation systems here in California or anywhere else in the country. Instead, they fall under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. It is under this act that one former railroad worker has filed a lawsuit alleging that it was through his employer's negligence that he suffered toxic exposure to carcinogens and chemicals. 

The seedier side of workers' compensation: Workplace assaults

California's doctors, nurses and other medical personnel do not always get to choose their patients. They deal with a variety of personalities, some of which can turn violent. The seedier side of workers' compensation deals with the prevalence of workplace assaults on health care workers.

Of course, the problem is not new. However, it appears that the number of assaults of health care workers by their patients has risen significantly due, at least in part, to the rise in opioid addiction. In fact, the problem has reached a point of critical mass, and federal and state governments are finally taking notice. California actually leads the charge in this area with enhanced reporting requirements for instances of assault by patients.

Today's hot topic: Heat and construction injury claims

As California moves into summer, the concern over heat-related illnesses take center stage. Employers are required to provide workers with the means to prevent such illnesses, but sometimes it just is not enough. However, employers might be able to spare many employees from getting overheated and also lower the number of construction injury claims related thereto.

Employers are required to provide workers with adequate cool water, shade and annual training relating to preventing heat-borne illnesses. Written policies should also be available outlining an employer's program. Employers must also consider the changes that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health made to its heat-related illness program in 2015.

Case Results

  1. $4.5 Million Settlement

    Medical Malpractice - Hypoxic brain injury during surgery.

  2. $2.9 Million Settlement

    Construction site accident resulting in cervical fusion

  3. 100% Permanent Disability Award

    Workers Compensation - Multiple injuries to State worker

  4. $1.6 Million Settlement

    Truck v. pedestrian accident resulting in multiple factures.

  5. $1.2 Million Structure Settlement

    Workers Compensation - spine injury with guaranteed payments for life.

  6. $1.2 Million Settlement

    Motorcycle v. car accident resulting in multiple fractures and scarring.

  7. $933,000.00 Settlement

    Child burned when table collapsed spilling scalding water from coffee um.

  8. $850,000.00 Settlement (Before MICRA)

    Medical Malpractice - Endotracheal injury during surgery resulting in death.

  9. $780,000.00 Settlement

    Disputed liability car v. truck collision.

  10. $500,000.00 Settlement

    Workers Compensation - Spinal injuries to delivery driver.

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