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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Construction company criminally liable for worker's death

The California Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued 14 citations to a construction firm that was recently found criminally liable for the death of one of the company's employees. The employee, a 39-year-old Hayward man, was killed in an accident at a home construction site in Milpitas on Jan. 28, 2012. Cal/OSHA is also seeking more than $168,000 in fines from the Fremont-based firm following the fatal accident.

On Aug. 11, authorities said that a grand jury in Santa Clara County indicted the construction firm for the worker's death. The grand jury also indicted the owner and chief executive of U.S.-Sino Investment Inc. as well as the company's project manager. The 52-year-old CEO is believed to be in China; both he and the 36-year-old project manager are being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Cal/OSHA probes 2 firms after fire injures 8 workers

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating two construction firms that were renovating the former Renoir Hotel in California when a fire began and injured eight workers. The incident was reported just after noon on August 6, and it took more than three hours to extinguish the fire.

Kor Group bought the eight-story McAllister Street property in 2012 and is renovating it into an updated hotel. A representative of Cal/OSHA says that the general contractor is Pacific Structures and the subcontractor is Emerald Steel. Fire officials say that there were about 24 workers in the former hotel when the fire started. Eight people suffered minor injuries, but only seven of them were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, as the eighth worker refused hospital transport. The Cal/OSHA representative said that several of the injured people work for Emerald Steel, and they were fitting studs on an existing structure at the time of the incident. The agency is looking into whether that work triggered the blaze.

EPA finalizes risk assessment of TCE

California regulatory agencies have considered the chemical trichloroethylene to be a health hazard for some time. Now the federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued a finalized risk assessment of the chemical that identifies serious health risks for consumers using products containing TCE and employees working in industries utilizing it.

The EPA findings demonstrate that toxic exposure may result from using TCE in workplace settings. It is commonly used as a spot cleaner at dry cleaners or as a degreaser. It is also used in spray fixatives. The EPA report finds that the chemical has been linked to kidney toxicity, immunotoxicity, liver toxicity, neurotoxicity, heart malformations in exposed fetuses and multiple forms of cancer.

Accident in California kills 1 worker and injures another

One worker died after being electrocuted, and another worker suffered major injuries during an accident at a California high school on July 17. Emergency responders declared the worker, who was in his 20s, dead on the scene. The other worker was taken to the hospital and was in critical condition on the day of the accident. The two men were standing on a scaffold, helping a booster club to put up a banner, when the incident occurred.

An eyewitness at the scene said that the coworker who had not been electrocuted got badly injured after trying to administer CPR to the other construction worker. According to accounts by the eyewitness and an Orange County Fire Authority spokesperson, the construction worker fell approximately 25 feet to the ground after his body came into contact with an electric wire, and his hand and hip was set on fire. The man was treated for serious burns and injuries from the fall after the accident.

Dixon & Daley, LLP

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