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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace accidents: Firefighter killed when bulldozer rolls over

Lives of firefighters are put on the line during devastating wildfires in California every summer. Workplace accidents in these circumstances are not surprising because of the unpredictability of the fires. This year's blazes have already claimed the life of one firefighter, and flags in California's capital are flying at half-staff in honor of the deceased man.

Authorities report that the 36-year-old man was operating a bulldozer not far from Yosemite National Park when he suffered fatal injuries on a recent Saturday. The fire chief said the man used the machine to establish a fire break to prevent the spreading of the blaze when the bulldozer rolled over. The massive machine landed on top of the firefighter, causing his death.

Work-related spinal cord injuries could end your career

There are many kinds of work injuries that people suffer as a result of their employment. Some people, like factory workers, professional drivers or even office employees, can experience repetitive motion injuries that result from accumulated damage over time. Others could risk head injuries due to slips, trips or falling objects.

There is also the potential for spinal cord injuries at just about any kind of workplace. Many people think that spinal cord injuries only happen to those in very dangerous occupations. People commonly associate spinal cord damage with falls. However, there is broad range of accidents that can cause spinal cord damage and any of these could keep you from continuing the pursuit of your career.

Nursing and pumping mothers have federal job protections

Many women pursuing a professional career already know that their right to work has special protections in place during their pregnancy and after childbirth. Employers should allow a worker to change responsibilities while pregnant and to take adequate time off after the birth of a child to facilitate bonding and medical recovery.

Fewer women realize that lactating mothers also have special protections under the law. If you have chosen to breastfeed your child or pump breast milk to provide to your child in a bottle, that is also a protected medical condition in the United States.

Workers' compensation: Will benefits cover West Nile virus?

California workers who spend a lot of time working outdoors face the hazards brought by insects during the summer months. West Nile virus is one of the diseases caused by mosquito bites, and nine cases have so far been reported across the state this summer. Employees may find comfort in knowing that the workers' compensation insurance system covers occupational diseases.

Birds typically carry the West Nile virus, and it is then transferred to humans and animals by mosquitoes that had bitten infected birds. In 2017, 553 cases of humans infected by WNV were reported in California, and 44 of those victims did not survive. Currently, no vaccine or specific treatment exists for WNV in humans.

Workplace injuries are par for the course for firefighters

Citizens of California rely heavily on firefighters and paramedics during emergencies. Not only are firefighters often first responders in natural disasters, explosions, wildfires and other calamities, but they also run into burning buildings. They risk their lives every day to keep others alive, regardless of the workplace injuries they might suffer, and their loved ones are always aware of the fact that they might not come home safely.

Authorities say a Sacramento firefighter suffered injuries when he was part of a crew that fought a house fire on a recent Wednesday. Reportedly, two houses were engulfed in flames, and fire crews from both the Sacramento Fire Department and Metro Fire were fighting the blaze. They say the fire caused the displacement of 10 people.

Your employer should help you return to work after an injury

Workers in all kinds of industries get hurt on the job every day. While certain industries may be more prone to workplace accidents than others, an injury can happen in just about any field. After all, retail workers could slip on a wet floor and hurt their heads. Factory and office workers could suffer repetitive motion injuries from doing the same work every day for years.

Regardless of the nature of your job, in the wake of a workplace accident, your employer should try to help you get back to work. If you have injuries that will heal over time, your employer should try to accommodate your current abilities until you can resume your old responsibilities. If your injuries constitute a permanent disability, your employer should absolutely try to support your return to the job.

Broken bones from work injuries can cost more than you think

Workers can suffer all kinds of injuries while on the job. It only takes a second for a wet spot on the floor to cause a slip-and-fall incident or for a piece of machinery to malfunction. Workers often end up suffering severe injuries that leave them unable to return to their job for many days or even weeks.

Burns, crushing injuries and head injuries are all common on-the-job injuries, as are broken bones. A fracture can take a long time to heal and may permanently impact a worker's mobility and quality of life. Understanding the risks from broken bones is important when you're dealing with workers' compensation insurance.

Workplace injuries: Heat illness a deadly threat in California

Along with all the usual occupational hazards, this is the time of the year when employees in California have to cope with the dangers posed by summer heat. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health once again reminded employers of their responsibilities to train workers on the hazards of heat illness and how to prevent it. A written list of procedures must be developed and implemented for systems to prevent heat-related workplace injuries or illnesses.

Outdoor workers in industries such as landscaping, agriculture and construction must be provided with at least a quart of fresh water every hour. They must also have access to cool, shaded areas and allowed to spend frequent breaks of five minutes or more at a time in the shade. All workers must be under close observation of supervisors and each other to allow prompt action at the first signs of heat illness.

Work-related head and brain injuries can end your career

Some of the best paying jobs are also the most dangerous. Many times, the reason certain jobs pay well is because they require specific skills or have an increased risk of bodily injury or even death. However, it's important to understand that workers in any industry can sustain serious injuries. Head injuries, as well as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), can happen to just about anyone at work.

In some fields, a TBI could be the result of a fall from a significant height. Construction workers or window washers, for example, could fall and strike their head, resulting in a serious injury. It's also possible for people to sustain TBIs while working on the ground, due to a slip-and-fall incident at work. TBIs can also result from getting hit with objects or a car crash while working. Both employers and injured employees should always take head injuries seriously.

Youth workers vulnerable to workplace injuries at summer jobs

Summer in California brings a lot of youth workers to various industries, one of them being agriculture. However, the workplace safety burden is on the employer because many young workers believe they are invincible, and the last things they likely worry about are potential workplace injuries. Considering that they are typically not well trained for the jobs they do and often work unsupervised while being exposed to dangerous equipment make them exceptionally vulnerable.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires employers to provide healthy and safe workplaces with Injury and Illness Prevention Programs in place that involve the entire work crew -- including youth workers. Safety authorities say good examples set by supervisors can positively influence the attitudes and work ethics of young workers. Learning to prioritize safety from the start of their careers may produce a safety conscious new generation of workers.

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