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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Yes, undocumented workers can still receive workers' compensation

There are countless reasons why people may find themselves working in the United States without adequate documentation. Perhaps they came to visit family and then ended up staying to make a better future. Maybe they belong to an ethnic group or religion facing persecution in their country of origin. Whatever the cause of their undocumented status, these individuals usually work hard to support themselves and their families.

Many times, undocumented workers secure jobs in risky career fields, like construction. Sadly, employers who retain the services and skills of undocumented workers may also choose to make other questionable employment choices. Those can include cutting corners when it comes to safety training and even equipment. Some may use older machinery, simply because they don't place enough value on the lives of their staff. When companies make those kinds of profit-before-people choices, workers all too often pay the price.

Stand-down aims to limit workplace injuries and deaths from falls

The construction industry holds a week of stand-down action nationwide -- including in California -- at this time every year. Between May 7 and 11 this year, large and small companies -- not limited to construction -- will once again spend the time to make a concerted effort to prevent falls that lead to many workplace injuries and even fatalities. The goal is to increase safety and promote compliance with safety regulations. This will be the fifth annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry remains falls. Records show that 991 construction workers nationwide lost their lives in 2016. More than one-third -- a total of 370 -- of those fatalities were linked to falls. During the stand-down, they expect to reach between seven and eight million employees in all states -- based on previous years' figures.

Workers' compensation protects you after a serious work injury

After years of working your job without any serious issues, one day there's an incident. Maybe inclement weather causes visibility issues, or perhaps a machine malfunctions while you are close by. It's even possible for a mistake by a co-worker to quickly result in an accident that causes you a serious injury. Suddenly, you're faced with the potential of not working for several weeks or even months while you recover. That can leave you worried about your ability to meet financial obligations and provide for your family.

The good news is that work-related injuries typically qualify for workers' compensation coverage. This kind of coverage is crucial for ensuring that those who work for a living don't wind up impoverished as a result. The benefits can help you secure the medical care you need while also taking the necessary time to recuperate. After you get hurt while working, you should report the injury to your employer and then file a claim for workers' compensation as soon as possible.

Workplace accidents: Hot-wired truck caused driver's death

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires all employers to take responsibility for the health and safety of their employees. All fatal workplace accidents are investigated by the safety agency to determine whether deaths resulted from noncompliance with safety regulations. The conclusions of one such an investigation were recently reported.

The case involved the death of a 60-year-old truck driver who had almost 40 years of experience in operating large trucks. Three days after he started a new job hauling fire debris to a landfill in Sonoma County last December, he lost his life on the job. Reportedly, he was in the process of reattaching the trailer to the rig when a malfunction caused the accident that crushed him to death.

Pregnant workers often face illegal discrimination at work

Under Federal law, pregnancy is a protected medical condition. Employers cannot legally discriminate against a worker who is, has been or hopes to become pregnant. However, the unfortunate reality is that many companies will do everything they can to push pregnant workers out of jobs. There are many reasons why companies may engage in this kind of behavior.

Pregnancy usually involves expenses and the addition of a new child dependent to an insurance policy pool. For the company, it can result in weeks or months of missed work. Since the business should allow the worker to return to the same position, that could mean hiring and training someone just for a temporary position. Making a worker feel like she has to quit can be a more cost-effective option, which is why some companies violate the law and the rights of pregnant workers.

Fear of retaliation prevents some workers from filing claims

When you work as an employee in California, you typically have the legal right to workers' compensation for any injuries you suffer or illnesses you acquire while working. After all, this is the entire point of the program. It is meant to protect workers from incurring substantial medical debt or becoming impoverished due to a disability caused by a job. Sadly, some workers worry about how filing a claim could impact their job and their future.

While most employers comply with the law and support injured or sickened workers, others choose to punish those who seek the benefits they deserve under law. Some employers may deny reasonable claims, fire or demote workers who file claims, or even refuse to accommodate a worker's need to remain on the job after an injury. All of these are forms of retaliation, and they are all illegal under federal law.

Workplace injuries: YouTube shooting underscores violence threat

According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, employers in California must provide safe work environments that are free of known hazards. They are responsible for the health and safety of employees and they must prevent workplace injuries. However, the prevalence of violence in workplaces is raising concern because it is becoming exceedingly challenging to protect employees from harm. This was underscored by the recent shooting at the YouTube offices in Northern California.

Cal/OSHA started working on plans to regulate workplace violence even before this incident. The agency was working on guidelines to protect workers not only from internal violent incidents but also from violent attacks by outsiders. On April 3, a YouTube video producer entered the building and randomly fired her weapon. After injuring three employees, she turned the gun on herself and committed suicide.

Things to know about repetitive motion injuries

Depending on your profession, there's a chance you could put stress on the same body part, day in and day out. While this doesn't appear to be a big deal, the stress can have an impact on your body over time.

This is where a repetitive motion injury could come into play. Also known as repetitive stress injuries, the end result can be damage to ligaments, nerves, muscles and tendons.

New rules may limit workplace injuries for housekeepers

Six years after representatives of hotel workers asked the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to create new regulatory standards for the on-the-job hazards that housekeepers in hotels face, their efforts paid off. On March 9, the Office of Administrative Law approved the ergonomic standard that will protect housekeepers from workplace injuries. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will start enforcement of the new rule on July 1.

The nature of the jobs done by housekeepers in the hospitality industry exposes them to musculoskeletal injuries when they have to lift mattresses, pull linens and push heavy carts. Slips or trips and falls as they clean bathrooms are also the causes of many injuries in this industry. Under the new regulation, employers must establish a workable Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) and maintain it.

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