Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Workplace injuries could lead to personal injury lawsuits

The workers' compensation insurance program in California provides benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages to victims of workplace injuries. However, under certain circumstances, injured workers might also have grounds to file third-party personal injury lawsuits. If the injury was caused by a party not linked to the same employer, such steps might be appropriate.

A construction worker in another state is suing the city for an electrical shock that caused severe injuries. According to the complaint, the man was working on a roof where a renovation of rain gutters was underway. A high-voltage electrical current went through him and the aluminum downspout that he was handling at that time. The shock threw him off the roof, onto an alley 20 feet down below.

Workers' compensation: The risks of distracted walking at work

There is no shortage of awareness campaigns and warnings about the dangers of distracted driving. However, not enough attention is paid to distracted walking in California workplaces. A significant number of workers' compensation claims involve injuries suffered while workers were talking or texting on their cellphones.

The National Safety Council's statistics on injury facts now include distracted walking, although the analysis does not include work-related incidents. Statistics show that more than half of the reported injuries linked to cellphone distractions happen at home, and women are more likely to suffer such injuries, especially in age groups younger than 40. Safety authorities warn that distracted walking in work environments is a significant problem.

Workers' compensation: Valley Fever protection

Valley Fever time is around the corner. Construction and agricultural workers in California are at higher risk of becoming infected with the Coccidioides fungus from June through November. The spores from the fungus live in the dirt but become airborne when the soil is disturbed. A significant number of workers' compensation claims each year involve Valley Fever cases.

Once the fungus spores are airborne, outdoor workers breathe them in and could develop Valley Fever. This disease typically affects the lungs, but other body parts could be infected, and could occasionally be fatal. The California Department of Public Health reported over 9,000 cases in 2019, an increase of over 1,000 from the 2018 reported cases of Valley Fever.

Prevention of construction worker injuries is critical

Construction work is labor intensive. A worker's body is subjected to harsh conditions on each shift. While many people think that these laborers are burly and meant for this type of activity, they face just as much risk of injury as anyone else.

The construction workers and the companies they work for must think carefully about the best options to keep them safe. This isn't always easy because of the vast array of incidents and injuries that might occur, but having a safely plan in place to address the majority of them is beneficial.

Workers' compensation: Worker fatally struck by company truck

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes strict safety regulations for all industries. Employers must provide workplaces that are free of known hazards. Safety standards include the safe operation of company vehicles. Safety training for vehicle operators is crucial, and all workers must receive training on safely sharing their workplace with vehicles. A significant number of workers' compensation claims involve injuries and fatalities caused by negligent drivers.

Cal/OSHA has launched an investigation into the death of an agricultural worker on the property of a food producer in Northern California. The California Highway Patrol reported that a truck operator backed up without checking for workers behind the vehicle. The worker who was struck succumbed to his injuries before he could be transported to a hospital.

Workers' compensation: Fatality at turkey processing plant

Foster Farms employs over 1,000 workers at two meat processing plants in Turlock. One plant was closed on a recent Tuesday after a worker lost his life in a workplace accident. Each year, a significant number of workers' compensation claims in California involve production line workers.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the death of a production line worker on one of the turkey processing plants of this company. The agency has strict safety standards to protect workers from making contact with moving machine parts. Safeguards must be installed to protect workers, yet catastrophic injuries and fatalities continue to result from the dangers of unguarded equipment.

Workers' compensation: Dog bite hazards for postal workers

Employees in all industries in California must deal with safety hazards. Workers' compensation claims show that each occupation poses unique safety risks. Workers in several fields encounter the dangers posed by dogs every day. Data kept by the American Veterinary Medical Association indicates that an estimated 77 million dogs live in just over 48 million homes nationwide.

Employees at risk include postal workers, delivery workers, home maintenance workers and outdoor workers like landscapers may all come face-to-face with dogs on any given day. The size of the dog does not indicate the level of danger it poses. The National Safety Council has data that shows an increase of 2,850 in nonfatal dog-related injuries in the private sector between 2012 and 2018.

Many workers' compensation claims follow electrical shocks

Workers in almost all California industries have to deal with electrical hazards, and employers must ensure that safety training includes identification and control of hazards that could cause electrical shocks, some of which could be fatal. Inexperience and inadequate training could have devastating consequences. A significant percentage of annual workers' compensation claims involve injuries caused by electricity.

Workers at risk include overhead line workers, electricians, engineers and most other occupations. Hazards include electrical repairs and installations, along with testing equipment and fixtures. However, even those who do not directly work with electricity, such as office workers and construction workers will be exposed to electrical hazards. Overhead power lines threaten all workers, and disregarding prescribed safety regulations could cause contact with the high voltage lines.

Workers' compensation: Complacency is a workplace hazard

Some of the most dangerous work environments in California are industrial facilities where workers risk making contact with moving parts of machines and equipment. A significant number of workers' compensation claims involve amputation injuries that were caused by the lack of lockout/tagout devices or the lack of safety training and supervision. Even with all the necessary LOTO equipment, many fingers or other body parts have been lost because workers became complacent.

Complacency and fatigue increase injury risk significantly. Workers must never do repairs or maintenance, clear blockages, or clean equipment with moving parts before locking the machine out and tagging it to warn co-workers not to activate it. Unfortunately, workers who have been exposed to these hazards for many years without suffering injuries might be complacent. They could think that clearing a jam or doing a quick repair would need no more than a minute or two -- and following the LOTO safety standards would be a waste of time. However, taking shortcuts to save a few minutes could have life-changing consequences.

Traumatic brain injuries can make returning to work difficult

People who suffer a traumatic brain injury may have difficulties when they try to go back to work. It is sometimes thought that they should be able to jump right back into the job they had prior to the injury, but the fact remains that issues can persist long after the traditional healing period.

A person who's suffered a brain injury might need to have special help or accommodations when they return to work. It's possible these will be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but finding the accommodation that works might prove to be a challenge.

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