Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Shoulder injuries are common at various workplaces

When you think of work-related injuries, your mind might turn to back problems. While that is the most common musculoskeletal issue that comes from work, it is far from the only one. Second on the list is shoulder injuries. These can be physically limiting, which can lead to time off work. In the case of severe damage for a person who has a demanding job, the problem can be career ending.

Addressing shoulder injuries can be rather difficult because you use your arms for many tasks during the day. It also might difficult to determine the root cause of the pain you are experiencing. It is possible that the symptoms are coming from another area, which complicates some cases even more.

Many workers' compensation claims filed by new employees

Studies have found that a significant number of workplace injuries in California and elsewhere involve new employees. One such a study concluded that the risk of occupational injuries for new workers within their first month on the job is three times higher than for those who have more than 12 months of service. Sadly, according to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, most workplace injuries that lead to workers' compensation claims are preventable.

Safety authorities urge employers to protect the health and safety of new employees by providing adequate training, regardless of whether the new worker has previous experience at another company. Job site-specific safety training is crucial for all new employees. Establishing mentoring programs that assign new workers to experienced employees can prevent many injuries. However, if the mentors are not responsible and violate safety standards and take shortcuts, the program can do more harm than good.

Workers' compensation: Waste collection poses severe hazards

California workers who collect recyclable materials and other refuse face multiple safety risks every day. Workers' compensation records indicate that waste collection is one of the most hazardous jobs nationwide. Common dangers they face include chemical poisoning, exposure to vermin and injuries caused by sharp objects. However, safety authorities say ergonomic injuries are the most common occupational hazards in this industry.

Waste collection involves frequent lifting, pushing and shoving of heavy objects. Therefore, learning proper and safe lifting techniques is crucial to avoid injuries like spinal damage, hernias, strain, sprains and other musculoskeletal injuries. Hand protection is essential to help reduce the risks of cuts and lacerations. Also, early morning dew, rain, ice or leaking fluids can make containers slippery and dangerous to handle.

Surviving family can claim workers' compensation benefits

Employers in California must protect their workers from harm. The responsibility includes informing employees of the work-related hazards they might encounter, and safety training on how to mitigate the dangers they face. It applies to all workers, regardless of whether they work on or off-site. This is to prevent workplace accidents, and although workers' compensation benefits can provide financial assistance to injured employees or the surviving family members of deceased workers, it could never replace lost lives.

In the early morning of a recent Wednesday, police officers responded to a scene of a work-related accident was reported. This industrial accident occurred at the headquarters of a waste management company. Reportedly, a worker was struck and killed by a loader that was backing up. Authorities say the operator of the loader could not see the worker on the ground.

Workers' compensation claims might follow building collapse

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reported that an investigation was launched into an incident that sent four construction workers to the hospital. Reportedly, the injuries were caused by the partial collapse of a building under construction. Although nobody suffered life-threatening injuries, workers' compensation claims are likely to follow.

Reportedly, a crew from the fire department responded after receiving an emergency call at approximately 10:30 a.m. on a recent Monday morning. According to a spokesperson for Cal/OSHA, the workers were working on the construction of a wooden building when the structure collapsed. It is suspected that a supporting truss gave way, causing the partial collapse of the building.

Forklift accidents lead to many workers' compensation claims

During the recent National Forklift Safety Day, safety authorities nationwide urged employers in California and other states to review their safety programs and modify them where necessary. Many workers' compensation claims involve workers who were on foot when they were injured in forklift accidents. For this reason, safety training for pedestrians in manufacturing facilities, warehouses and fulfillment or distribution centers is crucial.

Forklift operators have to deal with blind spots and other issues that can block their vision while they lift and haul products in areas where workers move about on foot. As examples of typical forklift vs. pedestrian accidents, authorities used a case in which a forklift crushed a punch press operator in a computer components manufacturing plant. Reportedly, her workstation was too close to the path traveled by the forklift. The operator of the machine struck a bin filled with metal scrap adjacent to the woman's workstation while backing up, causing the bin to push the press up against the worker.

Will workers' compensation cover repetitive stress injuries?

Work-related injuries come in many forms, some more difficult to recognize and diagnose than others. Sometimes, a worker may worry that their injury does not qualify for workers' compensation coverage because it is a cumulative injury and did not occur all at one time. Repetitive stress injuries are some of the most common, and it is not always clear if an employee should cover them.

If you developed a repetitive stress injury and have concerns about coverage and care through workers' compensation in California, a strong legal strategy can help. With a clear understanding of the steps you can take to document your injury and a well-built legal strategy, you can build a strong claim and follow it through to receive the care you need to heal.

Workers' compensation: What is the role of a "competent person?"

Safety authorities in California and other states will use the third week in June to focus on trench safety. A significant number of workers' compensation claims each year result from excavation-related injuries and fatalities. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that cave-ins can be prevented.

Construction workers will benefit from learning about safety standards that could keep them protected. The one who is responsible for safe trenches on any construction site is the appointed competent person. His or her duties involve inspecting trenches each day before workers enter them because overnight weather conditions could compromise the stability of excavation walls. This person must be able to identify dangerous conditions and potential developing risks, and have the authority to take corrective steps to mitigate them.

Cal/OSHA penalties are separate from workers' compensation

Last October, a 49-year-old worker in a Napa vineyard lost his life in an on-the-job accident. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigated the incident, and in April, the agency proposed penalties totaling almost $38,000 for safety violations. However, the Cal/OSHA Bureau of Investigations has reportedly taken over the inquiry after the vineyard owners file an appeal against the proposed penalties. This does not have an impact on any workers' compensation claim that the surviving family members of the deceased worker might have filed.

Reportedly, the Cal/OSHA report indicates that five citations were issued, two of which were classified as serious accident-related, one serious and two general safety violations. Investigators determined that the worker was pulled into a grape harvester when his sweatshirt was caught by moving machine parts and became wrapped around an unguarded shaft. This was one of many preventable accidents that happen on vineyards each year.

Workers' compensation covers claims related to heat illness

Very soon, California workers will be exposed to the heat of summer, and they will rely on their employers to protect them from excessive exposure. Outdoor workers such as those in the construction, landscaping and agriculture industries are protected by the safety standards of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. However, indoor workers file many heat-related workers' compensation claims each year, and the safety agency is working on developing standards to protect these workers from heat stress as well.

Many heat-related on-the-job deaths occur every year. One death cited in the database of the Bureau of Labor Statistics involved a temporary roof worker who collapsed from heat exhaustion on the job,and died three weeks later. Another case involved a U.S. Postal service worker who died in her mail truck that was not air conditioned on a 115-degree day. The 63-year-old letter carrier succumbed to excessively high body temperature.

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