Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Electrical hazards can cause fatal workplace accidents

Employers nationwide, including California, must comply with federal and state safety standards. Sometimes, the most basic safety violations cause fatal workplace accidents, and many of them involve electrical hazards. It is crucial to perform a hazard assessment to identify electrical hazards before starting a work project.

The importance of hazard assessments was underscored by the death of a 61-year-old operator of a dump truck who was electrocuted. Reportedly, the incident happened in another state when the man raised the truck's bed to dump crushed rock into a sinkhole. The tipped bed of the truck made contact with high-voltage overhead power lines. When the operator noticed that the electricity set a rear tire on fire, he attempted to get out of the truck.

Can you claim retaliation if your workers' comp gets denied?

As an employee in California, you have a right to protection from retaliation in workers' compensation cases. If you file for compensation after an on-the-job injury, they cannot retaliate by cutting your hours, cutting your pay or firing you, for instance. The law works this way so that you feel confident enough to file when you think you have a valid claim. Otherwise, the mere threat of retaliation may force workers to stay silent just to keep their jobs.

But what if the case goes forward and your workers' comp gets denied? Can you still file a retaliation claim?

California workers risk wildfire-related workplace injuries

The California fire season runs from September through December, and it is not only firefighters who are at risk. Employers in all industries must ensure that workers understand the hazards posed by wildfires and learn how to avoid workplace injuries when they have to deal with fires. Wildfires are typically unplanned, often human-caused, and known to destroy everything in their path.

Wildfires flames could reach heights of 200 feet or more, and the level of humidity, wind speed, lay of the land and/or fuel can cause the fires to spread rapidly. There is always a potential of a fire tornado developing, causing the fire to spread rapidly. Workers involved in the cleanup operations must be prepared to deal with masses of debris and other safety hazards.

Physical labor linked to risk of early death

It is true that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy and can increase certain health problems, such as obesity. However, it's important to note that some types of physical activity can also be problematic. In fact, one study linked physical activity with an increased risk of an early death.

The study in question examined 193,000 different male workers. They all had jobs that required different levels of physical activity; some were demanding jobs and others were not. In this study, researchers discovered that those with the most physically intense jobs saw a risk of dying early that was 18% higher than their counterparts.

Typical workplace injuries in auto repair shops

Workers in all industries in California face safety hazards, some of which are unique to their occupations. Those who earn their living in auto repair shops face an almost endless list of dangers each day. The diversity of their jobs expose workers in automobile repair services to hazardous chemicals, fire and explosion risks, workplace injuries caused by machinery and tools, and ergonomic injuries caused by the awkward postures in which they do many of their tasks.

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of workers. It is therefore up to employers to develop environments in which safety is the focus. All workers must be provided with personal protective equipment that includes coveralls, gloves, safety boots, safety glasses and ear protection. At the same time, the necessary safety devices and guards must protect workers from making contact with dangerous machine parts.

Do you know the leading cause of on-the-job deaths?

Workers face many dangers in the workplace. Construction workers can fall from ladders or get injured by power tools. Factory workers can get injured by heavy machinery. Even office workers can slip and fall down the stairs. No matter what you do, the odds of a serious — and even deadly — accident probably sit higher than you're comfortable with.

But do you know about the leading cause of fatal workplace accidents? It's not anything exotic or unexpected. In fact, it's a huge issue for everyone, even those who are not at work.

Utility company warns loggers about workplace accidents

Loggers, tree fellers, landscapers and even those who only trim the branches of trees must never lose sight of the hazards of their jobs. Too many lives have been lost in preventable workplace accidents in this industry. The utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently reminded California tree workers to research and identify high voltage power cables before they start to fell trees.

Only specially trained workers equipped with properly insulated equipment should work on trees near power lines. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires a clearance of at least 10 feet between workers and power lines. All power lines must be assumed energized, including the lower voltage lines between utility poles and buildings.

Your rights as a pregnant employee in California

Being pregnant while working can naturally create some challenges, even in the best of circumstances. This is because many expectant mothers go through health struggles intermittently in their pregnancy, or suffer considerably at certain periods. For example, pregnant women who are suffering from extreme morning sickness may be forced to take time off work, and they may even need to be admitted to the hospital. Furthermore, many pregnant women struggle with insomnia, which could also affect their ability to work throughout their pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or if you are planning to get pregnant, you should take the time to understand your rights in the California workplace as a pregnant employee. By doing so, you will be better equipped to assert your rights if they are violated. The following are some of the key rights in California for pregnant employees.

Heat-related workplace injuries and illness can be fatal

Every summer, thousands of California workers risk their lives working outdoors in extreme heat. Although work doesn't stop when conditions become hazardous, the risks can be mitigated. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health goes to great lengths each year to urge employers to prioritize the safety of employees who are at risk of suffering heat-related workplace injuries or illnesses.

Sadly, not all employers take the necessary care to protect workers. Cal/OSHA is currently investigating the death of a farmworker in Kern County. Reportedly, the incident happened on July 31. Authorities say a landscaping company employed the 56-year-old man. He was involved in the installation of an irrigation system in an almond orchard in Arvin on the day that he died.

Respiratory issues you face after decades in the workforce

The air you breathe on the job is not always as clean and pure as it should be. Carpenters deal with constant wood dust in the air. Home renovators may breathe in asbestos. Factory workers could deal with mold. Workers who use strong chemicals can inhale all manner of fumes.

Over time, you may stop thinking about the sheer amount of exposure you get, but it can take a serious toll. Even when you don't breathe in that much of a contaminant with every individual breath, spending years or even decades breathing that air puts you at a serious disadvantage. You could wind up with some type of occupational respiratory disease.

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