Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Requirements and benefits for filing workers' compensation claims

Most employees in California find comfort in the fact that their employers will have their backs if they should suffer work-related injuries. However, they might not be aware of the requirements for filing workers' compensation benefits claims. They can also benefit from learning which benefits they could expect to receive in the event of an occupational illness or injury.

When it comes to deadlines, an injured worker must inform the employer in writing about the injury within 30 days. The injured worker must then be provided with a workers' compensation claim form within one day. He or she has one year to file a benefits claim. Injured workers are typically eligible for benefits that will cover their medical expenses and two-thirds of their regular wages for a period of temporary disability.

Are hernias compensable under California workers' compensation?

Many job descriptions include the ability for the worker to be able to lift up to a certain weight. These workers, such as delivery drivers, manufacturing employees and fire fighters, can suffer harm because of the weight they might have to lift. When this happens, the employee may need to seek workers' compensation coverage for the medical bills and time off they have to take.

One of the injuries that can occur at work is a hernia. This is a difficult condition to live with, and it usually requires surgery. Unfortunately, receiving workers' compensation for a hernia isn't always automatic.

Will workers' compensation cover Coronavirus infections?

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued guidelines for precautionary measures to take to protect employees from exposure to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Although workers' compensation will likely cover work-related infections, the agency noted that health care workers and those who work in laboratory settings would be at higher risks than in other occupations. Risk assessments must determine activities and tasks that could expose workers and employers must have clear plans for action when exposure incidents occur.

Cal/OSHA says feasible work practice and engineering control must be used to minimize the exposure of health care workers. The standards include those mandated in the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard because the 2019-nCoV is an airborne infectious disease. Measures include isolation areas or rooms, air disinfection, air filtration and exhaust ventilation controls. Pathogens can be transmitted through the air that workers breathe, aerosols and droplets.

How can workers' compensation death benefits help?

A family in San Rafael recently lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident. Along with their heartache, they will likely also have to cope with unanticipated expenses and lost income. This is where the California workers' compensation system typically comes into play by providing survivors' benefits.

Employers are typically required to carry workers' compensation insurance. According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, this 37-year-old victim was an employee of a tree removal company. He was contracted by a homeowners' association to remove some trees. The details of the circumstances that led up to the worker's death were not reported in detail.

Workers' compensation benefits run out, but chronic pain persists

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reported that California workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Fresno appear to face exceptionally high injury risks. Analysis of OSHA records shows that 307 occupational illnesses and injuries were reported at that facility in the twelve months from June 2018 through May 2019. The agency further reports that the injury rate at this fulfillment center is triple the rate of injuries in this industry nationwide, which is reflected in the number of workers' compensation claims.

One source reported that workers feared job loss if they reported on-the-job injuries, which makes one question the accuracy of the reported injury statistics. The OSHA report lists the injury types, most of which are back, shoulder, wrist and ankle strains and sprains resulting from repetitive motions. Next on the injury list come bruises, fractures, crush injuries and skin irritations.

Will workers' compensation cover FHP?

Technological advancements have brought about a brand new injury said to be caused by using tech gadgets. Forward Head Posture (FHP) is caused by using tech gadgets like tablets, phones and other devices. While FHP is common among teenagers, it is also developing into an occupational hazard. Workers whose jobs require the frequent use of handheld devices might have questions about how the California workers' compensation system will handle claims for injuries caused by excessive strain on vertebrae in the neck and spine as a result of FHP.

Workplace researchers say modern technology causes poor ergonomics, and while desktop computer workers already tend to slouch in their chairs, FHP can exacerbate the injury risks. Looking down at handheld devices increases the extension required in the upper thoracic, lower and upper cervical vertebrae. This posture is also called "poking chin."

What should spinal cord injury victims know about their injury?

A person who suffers a spinal cord injury has an uncertain future, but understanding a bit about their injury can help them to set goals. There are three primary factors that determine healing possibilities. These include the location, severity and type of injury.

Typically, higher, more severe, and complete injuries are more difficult to recover from than lower, less severe, and incomplete injuries. You can discuss the type of injury with your doctor.

Workers' compensation: 2018 preventable workplace death toll up

According to a report issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the number of work-related deaths in 2018 was 422 -- compared to 376 in 2017. Too many families have to turn to the workers' compensation insurance system for financial assistance each year. A spokesperson for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says not enough is done to keep workers safe.

He says Cal/OSHA is looking at ways to improve the agency's education and enforcement efforts. The National Safety Council and the American Society of Safety Professionals share the concern over the increase in nationwide occupational fatalities. The fact that more workers die despite the development and availability of innovative tools to improve workplace safety exacerbates the level of concern.

Roof falls cited in many workers' compensation claims

A significant number of workplace accidents in California involve the lack of adequate safety standards. Roof workers often rely on their employers to provide the necessary fall protection. Unfortunately, not all employers prioritize employee safety, which is likely reflected in the number of workers' compensation claims that are filed each year.

Safety authorities say roof fall protection is classified as passive and active. Passive protection involves guardrail systems and other safety devices that are installed to prevent falls, and active protection includes lanyards, harnesses, horizontal lifelines and anchor points, which are all safety devices connected to the workers. Employers must assess each roof to determine their unique hazards before work proceeds.

Distractions lead to many workers' compensation claims

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are over one million emergency room visits across the country each year for serious hand injuries caused by workplace accidents. Safety authorities cite distractions as the primary cause for many of these injuries. Although workers might find comfort in the fact that the workers' compensation system will cover their medical expenses and lost wages, it's important to stop and think of the consequences of losing a hand, or even just a finger.

Californian employers are required to comply with safety standards as prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. According to the National Safety Council, direct and indirect costs to a company can be between $10,000 and $100,000, depending on the type of injury the employee suffered. Lost work time and accommodations for workers whose hand injuries caused disabilities can be avoided.

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