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.
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.
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.
California construction sites can be steeped with many readily recognizable hazards. Heavy machinery, scaffoldings and piles of debris all hold a host of potential dangers. Yet of equal concern should be those threats that are not so easily visible.
Employees at Los Angeles area oil refineries are well versed on potential dangers inherent in their work environment. Due to the combustible nature of the chemicals involved in the process of refining crude oil, vigilant adherence to safety regulations is paramount to ensure worker safety at refineries. Any sort of breach may cause toxic exposure to those working in the vicinity.
Los Angeles County residents have reason to feel concern about a recent series of air quality tests conducted in Paramount. The tests’ results show a disturbing level of toxic metals polluting the air. Carlton Forge Works, a local metal manufacturing company, has been pinpointed as the source of the problem. The levels of toxicity are likely warrant further studies into the possible risks of toxic exposure to those in the facility’s vicinity.
Parents in Los Angeles County may have read about a group of teachers working to press their district into further testing for toxins on a campus shared by three schools. The action started with three teachers diagnosed positive for thyroid cancer. A series of tests on indoor air quality had already revealed PCB levels in excess of federal standards. Failure of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District to perform a more thorough round of testing has prompted fears among faculty of toxic exposure in an unsafe workplace.
In November 2013, the Occupational and Health Administration proposed changing its workplace safety reporting procedures, making detailed workplace reports available to be viewed online. The proposed changes come at a time when the Obama administration has pushed for providing greater access to governmental data. By making the reports available publicly, OSHA would make them available for employees and safety inspectors in places throughout the country, including California, to read. The public would know about any company suspected of negligence or carelessness much more easily.
A California workplace safety agency is fining a local government for failing to take appropriate safety measures after a hazardous substance was released into the workplace. The local government is appealing the fine.
Los Angeles residents may be interested to learn about the thousands of lawsuits that are being filed against BP Plc, the London-based multinational oil and gas company. The 48,000 lawsuits are the result of a 2010 incident in which the company allegedly vented over 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. Neighbors who live around the oil refinery in Houston, Texas are claiming that negligence on the part of BP resulted in the poisoning of an entire community.