Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Thunderstorms and lightning can cause severe workplace injuries

The hazards posed by thunderstorms and lightning don't always receive the amount of attention they deserve. It might not be a danger that California workers face every day, but employers must ensure that workers are prepared for unexpected thunderstorms. Employees who are not familiar with the steps to take to avoid lightning could suffer severe workplace injuries.

Although being struck directly is unusual, anyone in an open area can receive a fatal bolt, and if lightning strikes a tall object such as a tree, a side flash can hit a worker seeking shelter under the tree. Many injuries and deaths from lightning bolts are caused by ground strikes that cause the energy to travel along the surface of the ground. Lightning can also be conducted by metal, and another potential, but less common threat is being in the way of a streamer.

The realities of pregnancy discrimination

For many women, finding out that they are pregnant is one of the best moments of their lives. Unfortunately, an employer may not see it the same way. They may resent that the worker is pregnant for numerous reasons. The employer may not want to pay them during maternity leave. They may worry that the worker will eventually quit to be with their family. They may assume that a pregnant woman will not be able to do her job as well as someone who is not pregnant. They may assume that mothers only care about their families and not their careers.

Without hard hat, workplace injuries might have been fatal

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health mandates that employers must provide workers with the necessary personal protective equipment. Compliance with these regulations likely saved the life of a 25-year-old, newly married worker in Fresno. The man's father and his doctor agree that the workplace injuries he suffered could have been fatal had he not worn a hard hat.

Reportedly, the accident occurred on a recent Monday at the site of a steel tank manufacturing company that employs the injured man. According to his father, he was struck on the head by a 250-pound ball that came crashing down when the line that held it on a crane snapped. The circumstances that led to the line breaking is yet to be determined.

Don't forget your rights because you're worried about job loss

Your California employer pays you well and you have a great benefits package. You get to use your college degree, and you're doing work that you enjoy. You can see that there are options for you to move up the corporate ladder in the future, so this is something that you think of as a viable career.

For many people, that is essentially the American Dream. They just want that stability. They want a steady paycheck. 

Workplace accidents: The threat of the silent killer

Carbon monoxide is an occupational hazard in many industries in California. Facilities at which forklifts or other equipment that is powered by liquid petroleum gas are used are most hazardous. Internal combustion engines of LPG-powered devices emit carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that could cause fatal workplace accidents.

The name of the silent killer follows the fact that CO is undetectable, and if a worker does not know the identifying symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, he or she could be dead within minutes. In high concentrations, carbon monoxide can prevent oxygenation of the blood cells and deprive the brain of essential oxygen. Even if CO poisoning is detected and treated, the health effects could be permanent.

Summer brings risks of workplace injuries for landscapers

Landscapers in California face multiple safety hazards throughout the year, but with the increased activities during the summer, the risks they face are exacerbated. Along with potential workplace injuries caused by repetitive hard labor, hazardous equipment and dangerous chemicals, summer months bring exposure to heat-related illnesses. Employers must protect the health and safety of workers by providing safety training and personal protective equipment.

Workplace injuries can also include slips and falls, amputations, lacerations and more. One of the essential items of a landscaper's personal protective equipment is the hard hat. With some workers in elevated positions, working high up in the trees and others moving about below, falling objects are major threats because even small pieces of debris can cause traumatic brain injuries or even fatalities. Other crucial PPE includes hearing protection, safety glasses, protective boots and gloves.

Could your job give you a heart attack?

Pressure only seems to grow with every day on the job. Your work is never done. Customers are never happy. You can never do enough for your boss. You end up working late nights, scrambling to meet endless deadlines and picking up the slack when your coworkers can't get their own work done on time.

Cardiologists warn, as heart issues take more lives in the United States than cancer, that stress on the job is terrible for your heart. If you have high blood pressure and related issues, one of the first things your doctor will tell you is to reduce your stress.

Workplace injuries caused by heat exposure are preventable

Safety authorities say thousands of workers nationwide suffer heat-related conditions each year, including in California. Sadly, dozens of those victims do not survive the workplace injuries and illnesses caused by heat exposure. Although construction workers are most vulnerable, farm workers, warehouse workers, roofers and other outdoor workers are also at risk.

While excessive sweating can cause slippery hands, increasing the risks of workplace injuries or accidents, it also causes dehydration if the worker does not replace the fluids that are lost through sweating by taking in enough liquids. Workers should not wait to feel thirsty before they drink water. Telltale signs of dehydration include dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps, dry mouth, light-headedness and even fainting.

Potential symptoms of post-traumatic arthritis

If you injure your knee at work, especially in a job that puts constant stress and strain on your joints, you could face risks of post-traumatic arthritis. While many people think of arthritis as something that simply impacts your body as you grow older, this is a specific type of disorder that occurs after a knee injury. Examples of potential injuries include:

  • Ligament injuries
  • A torn meniscus
  • A knee fracture

One key thing to keep in mind is that it can happen years later. This is why it's so important to have proper medical documentation. You may think that you overcame the injury, and the initial injury may very well have healed. That does not mean you will not face more physical challenges down the road.

Workers' compensation: Did your injury happen at work?

The insurance premiums that California business owners have to pay are directly tied to the number of claims they file for occupational illnesses and injuries. For this reason, some employers attempt to avoid filing workers' compensation benefits claims, and some workers fear retaliation if they report work-related injuries. Unfortunately, the risk of even more serious injuries is exacerbated by allowing an injured or ill worker to continue working without medical treatment.

What happens if a worker is injured on his or her own time? This can also adversely affect a company's bottom line. The injured employee may have to take some of his or her vacation days or sick days, and the employer might have to get a temporary worker to avoid production losses. This, and the fact that the replacement worker will not be as experienced as the injured worker will cost the company even more.

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