Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation: Fire extinguisher training crucial

At this time of the year, the threats of fires in California are significant, and all possible precautions must be put in place. All workers must receive annual training in the correct use of portable fire extinguishers. However, employers might lose sight of this, especially those who focus on profits instead of safety. This might also reflect in the number of burn injury-related workers' compensation claims are filed each year.

Fire needs a combination of factors to exist. These include a combustible material or fuel and enough heat to allow ignition. Oxygen is essential to sustain combustion. These circumstances are present in many workplaces, and fires can erupt in seconds. In such situations, all workers must know the locations of portable fire extinguishers.

Why is knee pain a serious issue?

Knee pain while you are working is a serious problem that must be addressed right away. It is never a good idea to ignore the pain because this could let a minor injury get worse. Seeking medical care is imperative. Be sure that you report the injury to your superior so they can ensure you get to a doctor or emergency room that works with their workers' compensation provider.

Workers' compensation coverage, which employers are required to carry, covers medical care and partial wage replacement when a worker suffers an injury while they are doing their job duties. It also covers the therapy that you need to get back to working condition.

Workers' compensation covers injuries caused by fatigue

Fatigue is a life-threatening occupational hazard faced by workers nationwide, including California. Many workers' compensation claims are filed due to injuries and even deaths caused by the lack of sleep. Not only is sufficient sleep necessary for overall good health, but also alertness and clear thinking. Sleep deprivation is the primary cause of fatigue, and in many cases, shift work is to blame.

Operators of machines and equipment in industrial and manufacturing facilities and those on construction sites are at a higher risk than most, along with commercial vehicle drivers. Fatigue compromises reaction times and the ability to maintain focus, which often leads to work errors and higher rates of accidents and injuries. Safety authorities say sleep deprivation has the same effect as alcohol, and workers who have been without sleep for 24 hours are affected in the same way as people with a blood alcohol content higher than .08.

Workers' compensation: Cal/OSHA cites employer for worker's death

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has a significant burden ensuring the safety of workers. Following the March death of an employee of the Calaveras County Public Works Department, an investigation led to citations and proposed penalties of $72,000. Another likely consequence of the tragic workplace accident would be a workers' compensation death benefits claim filed by the surviving family members of the deceased worker.

Reportedly, the 57-year-old worker was a county employee for 10 years who died while cleaning up debris after the Butte fire. He was a member of the Cal Fire Conservation Camp hand crew. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigators determined that the worker's death resulted from being struck by a rolling log.

Workers' compensation: Are hot asphalt induced injuries covered?

Roof workers in California and elsewhere who apply hot asphalt to roofs are exposed to multiple occupational illnesses. The fumes produced during the application process can irritate the skin, eyes, throat and nose, and cause headache, nausea, drowsiness and fatigue. Affected roofers might have questions about their eligibility for workers' compensation, especially if they develop progressive lung diseases that might only become evident after long-term exposure.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, along with other authorities, are working to find ways to reduce the level of exposure to asphalt fumes. The mentioned effects are mostly transient and mild, but studies have indicated the possibility that long-term exposure could increase the risk of lung cancer. However, further studies are underway to determine whether lung damage is linked to the asphalt fumes or perhaps due to smoking or exposure to asbestos or coal tar instead.

Workers' compensation: Ambulance workers at highest risk

According to a study recently conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, two in 100 workers in all occupations suffer workplace injuries that need hospitalization. However, workers' compensation claims show that the numbers for ambulance workers are significantly higher. For them, as many as eight or nine in every 100 end up in hospitals nationwide, including California.

The physical demands of their work pose the most significant hazards for Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics. Their frequent bending, kneeling, pushing, pulling and lifting patients onto and off stretchers make them prone to sprains and strains of muscles and ligaments, as well as various back injuries. The NIOSH study shows that most of the musculoskeletal injuries occur when ambulance workers lift patients.

Understanding the connection between cancer and firefighting

Firefighting is a profession that comes with inherent risks. Firefighters have to put themselves in very dangerous situations so that they can bring others to safety. This is stressful from a psychological perspective, but the nature of firefighting also puts stresses on the body. One of the main reasons for this is because firefighters are often exposed to dangerous fumes.

Some of the chemicals that firefighters are often exposed to are known carcinogens, and this means that firefighters have a higher risk of developing cancer than the population as a whole. If a firefighter or a former firefighter is diagnosed with cancer, they may be able to claim workers' compensation as a result.

Workers' compensation: Father of 2 dies in sawmill accident

California workers in the lumber industry put their lives on the line to care for their families. Sadly, many young children have lost a parent who succumbed to injuries suffered in sawmills. The California workers' compensation insurance system eases the financial burden of thousands of families each year by paying out death benefits.

A 27-year-old sawmill worker recently left behind his mother and two young children when he died in a caught-by accident while working at a Sierra Pacific Industries sawmill in Tuolumne County. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the incident. Investigators will work to determine whether this fatality resulted from noncompliance with safety standards.

Workers' compensation: Garbage truck equipment crushes driver

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will investigate an incident that caused the death of a waste collection truck operator. The wife of the deceased worker says her husband reported a malfunctioning hydraulic mechanism on the truck several times, but nothing was done about it. If this proves to be the case, she might have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer, along with a workers' compensation claim.

Reportedly, the truck operator was crushed against the truck's body by the mechanical arm that dumps the trash into the hopper. The video surveillance camera of a nearby home recorded the incident shortly after 3:30 p.m. on a recent Monday. A passerby who suspected that something was wrong called 911 almost an hour later and deputies arrived in response at 4:26 p.m.

Confined space injuries give rise to workers' compensation claims

Confined spaces are work areas that provide enough space for a worker to perform work but have restricted or limited points of access and exit. They are typically not suitable for extended periods of occupation. These dangerous areas are present on various work sites in California, and noncompliance with prescribed safety standards can lead to workers' compensation claims for serious injuries or worse.

Dangerous confined spaces include utility holes, vats, tanks, tunnels and various other spaces that pose threats of entrapment, asphyxiation and other potentially deadly consequences. Employers must ensure that employees know the dangers posed by these areas. A permit requirement process must be in place, along with proper safety training, personal protective equipment and the necessary monitoring devices.

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