Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation: New equipment poses new safety hazards

The safest industrial facility can become a deadly work environment when new equipment is placed into service. Workers' compensation claims in California frequently involve injuries that resulted from changes to production processes and installing new machinery without proper preparation and training. With new equipment comes new hazards and new safety precautions.

In some cases, the installation of new equipment to improve existing processes involve the use of different chemicals that might be more hazardous and need different controls. A whole set of engineering and administrative controls might have to be set in place along with safety training to mitigate new hazards. Additional personal protective equipment might be required for added safety.

Workers' compensation covers office workers' injuries

Many people in California do not realize how dangerous it can be to work in an office. A significant number of workers' compensation benefits claims involve injuries caused by slips, trips, falls and other occupational hazards posed by office surroundings. However, proper housekeeping can mitigate almost all the risks..

Trip hazards include cords and cables snaking across walkways, random objects or boxes that are not placed in storage areas, personal items like handbags and briefcases, and desk or cabinet drawers that are left open. Slips can cause serious fall injuries, mostly caused by spills that are not cleaned and highly polished floors. Top-heavy filing cabinets that are improperly loaded can tip over and cause injuries.

Workers' compensation claims for cannabis industry employees

Employers in California are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Each industry, including the marijuana sector, has its unique hazards that are typically covered by workers' compensation insurance. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently proposed penalties of more than $50,000 after completing an investigation into a June incident at a pot facility in Santa Cruz County.

Reportedly, a worker was using a dangerous process of oil extraction from cannabis leaves by using propane. Cal/OSHA investigators determined that the propane tank was ignited and exploded when the equipment that the worker used caused a spark. The victim was hospitalized with serious burn injuries.

Cumulative trauma injuries can be devastating to hard workers

Workers face many hazards, some of which are due to the nature of the job. These are difficult to minimize because there might not be alternative ways that they can do their duties in a safer manner. It is imperative that employees and employers work to improve safety. However, the onus falls on the employer to ensure people have everything they need to avoid unnecessary accidents.

One particular safety issue in many workplaces is cumulative trauma. This occurs when wear and tear on the nerves, tendons and muscles causes damage to them. Repetition and improper body mechanics are two primary factors for these conditions.

Will the new crane rule limit workers' compensation claims?

Construction accidents in California involving cranes have had devastating consequences in the past. Many families were left having to rely on the death benefits paid by the workers' compensation insurance program. In some of those instances, investigators determined that unqualified crane operators caused the accidents.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published the new final rule for crane operators, effective from Dec. 9, 2018. The safety agency aims to ensure that only certified workers execute crane-related activities. The goal is to reduce the previous rule's compliance burdens while continuing to protect the health and safety of workers.

Personal injury: 3-year-old fatally struck by car in parking lot

Parking lots can be hazardous places, and California drivers must be extra vigilant for pedestrians. The chances of striking a pedestrian that results in serious personal injury are greater after dark, especially if there are children present. Young children might not realize that the same rules apply for parking lots as crossing normal roadways.

Police in Antioch recently reported the death of a child who was struck by a car in the parking lot for Sears on Somersville road. They say an emergency call came in shortly after 7:30 p.m. and emergency workers found a 3-year-old girl in an unresponsive condition. Paramedics rushed her to an area hospital, but she did not survive.

Workers' compensation eligibility after work party injuries

Many business owners in California choose to celebrate accomplishments and milestones by arranging parties for staff members during December. Alcohol is served at many of these celebrations, and it is no secret that alcohol consumption frequently leads to risky scenarios. Many workers are unsure of their eligibility for workers' compensation benefits if they should be injured during such festivities.

Situations that involve harassment can arise, and physical injuries can be suffered at the location or when workers drive home after the party. Workers can protect themselves by limiting their alcohol intake, avoid becoming too friendly with co-workers and not take part in dangerous activities that could lead to injuries. It might be a good idea to suggest that the employer arrange transport to take workers home if alcohol is served at the party.

Can farmworkers claim workers' compensation benefits?

As devastating wildfires ravage California, there is an urgency in efforts by authorities to protect employees. At the same time, there was an urgency in the efforts of farm owners to get crops off the fields to prevent smoke and suit damage. Labor unions expressed their concern for low-income construction workers, farmworkers and others who earn their incomes in the outdoors. Some of the workers on smaller farms might not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

Under California laws, employers must provide outdoor workers who are exposed to the hazards of wildfires with protective gear. Reportedly, deputies who helped with evacuating residents during the Woolsey and Hill fires were equipped with protective masks. However, thousands of the estimated 36,000 farmworkers were hard at work in the fields without any protection.

What are qualified medical evalutors and utilization reviews?

When a person submits an application for workers' compensation, they might have to go through a process in order to receive benefits. This is to ensure that the worker qualifies for benefits.

The application process can include several components, some of which might seem complicated. It is imperative that all workers who are trying to get workers' compensation understand some important facts about the process of applying.

Workers' compensation: Wildfires pose severe health hazards

With the wildfires in different areas of California, it is not only firefighters but also all other workers whose health is threatened. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued advisories with guidelines to help employers to keep their workers safe. Although the toxic smoke in the air poses a more severe threat to outdoor workers, precautions must also be taken to protect workers in enclosed areas. Many workers' compensation claims will likely follow the devastating seasonal wildfires.

To protect indoor employees and those in vehicles from harmful wildfire smoke, employers must establish and implement workable modifications to ensure the proper filtration of air. Employers are asked to review work schedules and modify them to limit the time employees spend working outdoors. Those who have to work in circumstances in which they are exposed to hazardous smoke must be equipped with safety approved respirators.

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