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Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

California man loses both legs in preventable workplace accident

Have you ever dropped something important down the drain of your kitchen sink and were hesitant about sticking your hand in to retrieve it? Most kitchen sinks are connected to a garbage disposal, and the idea of accidentally mangling your hand is a gruesome thought. Because of the risks, it is imperative to unplug the garbage disposal and make sure that there is no stored energy that could start the machine while you have your hand in the drain.

The same principle applies to much larger equipment in many factories. If workers must physically enter a machine (or stick limbs into it) to clean or service it, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that the equipment be de-energized and locked out. The machine must be inoperable (and unable to be started by anyone) until the work is completed and all employees are out of harm's way.

Recognize negligence at school: Childhood safety

Your child came home with a broken wrist in the early school year and a broken arm later in the fall. Now, only a few months later, your child ended up in the hospital with a broken ankle.The incidents happened during your child's monitored gym classes, so you're not sure why he was allowed to do things that caused such serious injuries.

The school claims that accidents happen, but you think it's unusual that this is not the first time your child has had a substantial injury in only a few months. Other parents have had similar complaints. What should you do?

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