On April 28, 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by the U.S. Congress. The Act requires employers in all industries to protect the health and safety of employees. Sadly, despite strict safety standards, the California workers’ compensation insurance system has since dealt with thousands of death benefits claims filed by surviving families of workers who died in work-related deaths.
The establishment of this law is commemorated on Worker’s Memorial Day each year to honor those who died in work-related accidents. Reportedly, the Injury and Illness Prevention Program, a standard adopted statewide in 1991, and the 2005 emergency heat illness prevention regulation were the first such programs to be developed nationwide. Amendments in 2010 added procedures to protect workers in oil and gas extraction, landscaping, construction and agriculture from high-heat exposure while working outdoors.
Further amendments to the regulations to prevent heat illness were made in 2015 to mandate employee training to recognize symptoms and signs of heat illness, and increased access to water and shaded areas for workers to take frequent breaks to cool down. Cal/OSHA also prescribes limits regarding exposure to chemicals to protect workers further. Industry-specific rules in California further underscore Cal/OSHA’s efforts to protect workers.
Sadly, some business owners prioritize their bottom lines rather than the health and safety of employees. Noncompliance with safety standards often leads to workplace fatalities — a fact that is underscored by the number of survivors’ benefits claims that are filed with the California workers’ compensation insurance program each year. Legal counsel can assist with the claims process to obtain benefits to cover end-of-life expenses and a wage-replacement package.