Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Los Angeles Workers' Compensation Law Blog

You don't have to do an unsafe job

Your employer tells you to do something that you know is clearly unsafe and puts you at serious risk. Maybe they want you to work near live power lines, for instance, or maybe they tell you to use a 40-foot ladder that is clearly rusted, broken and neglected. Regardless of exactly what the risk looks like, it all comes back to the fact that you know you could suffer serious injuries -- or even lose your life -- if an accident happens.

But what can you do? Your boss is in charge, and he or she told you to do the job. If you refuse, you think they'll just fire you. Is it worth your career to avoid a dangerous situation? Are you even allowed to refuse the work, or is this just what you signed up for when you took the job?

Common workplace injuries suffered by concrete workers

Each worker on a construction site in California faces numerous general safety hazards along with those that are unique to his or her job. Concrete workers, for example, face the typical slip and fall dangers, and they are vulnerable to struck-by incidents. They are at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders through the repetitive shoveling and lifting involved in their jobs. Along with these workplace injuries, they face the risk of suffering concrete burns.

Concrete is caustic and abrasive, and employers must ensure that concrete workers wear safety glasses, gloves and work boots along with clothing that covers their arms and legs. Concrete can cause skin irritations and burns, and the best protection is to wash away any form of concrete on the skin. The risks of falls from slips and trips are typically present where concrete workers have to deal with uneven surfaces, formwork, rebar and randomly placed tools.

Workplace injuries to the hands can cause amputations

Many workers in various California industries take precautions to prevent all kinds of occupational hazards, but many forget to protect their hands. Careers can be ruined and lives permanently changed by severe workplace injuries to the hands, especially when it leads to amputations. Hand safety should start with the basics like keeping hands clear from closing doors and always wearing protective gloves as protection from acids, sharp objects, splinters, chemicals, electrical burns and more.

Workers should be aware of hot equipment or lines because the slightest touch can cause severe burns to hands or fingers. It might be smart to learn to identify pinch points to avoid fingers and hands being caught in them. Also, anticipating the resistance and potential slips when using force while working with hand tools such as wrenches can provide further protection, and it is crucial to inspect tools for damage or defects before using them.

How safe is the agricultural industry?

The agricultural industry is huge and critical to the well-being of the nation's economy. We have come a long way since the days of single-family farms on the open plains. Modern agricultural production is above anything that has ever been seen before in human history, and it has to be with the world population growing and more and more countries depending upon our exports for food. It's not easy to feed this many people, and it takes a dedicated workforce that puts in long hours and hard labor.

It also comes with risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it one of "the most hazardous industries" in the United States. They note that the risks are high for both nonfatal and fatal injuries. This is an industry where lives and families are forever changed year in and year out.

What are the types of hazards that cause workplace injuries?

Safety authorities in California prescribe strict safety standards in all industries, tasking employers with the responsibility to protect the health and safety of their employees. Safety hazards that could cause workplace injuries exist in all occupational settings, and steps must be taken to mitigate them. Being able to recognize the different types of risks can help with taking precautions to avoid them.

Physical hazards are present in all work environments, and this category includes slip, trip-and-fall risks, sharp objects, heavy machinery, electrical hazards, excessive noise, and fall from elevated work areas -- among others. Another type is ergonomic hazards, which refer to workplace conditions that cause progressive bodily injuries in the long term. These include repetitive motion injuries, one of which carpal tunnel syndrome that affects the hand and wrist. Inadequate lighting cause eyestrain, and office furniture placed at awkward angles or heights that do not suit the workers pose ergonomic risks.

Pregnancy discrimination could hurt or even end your career

Thanks to years of pioneering efforts by brave women and legal changes at the state and federal levels, it is now possible for female workers to accomplish more than ever before. Employers can no longer consider gender as a factor when determining whom they hire. The same is also true for consideration relating to promotions, wage increases, and layoffs or terminations.

Unfortunately, many companies still subtly discriminate against women, especially those who are or eventually will become pregnant. Federal law extends protections to pregnant women in the workplace.

Inexperienced new hires often suffer workplace injuries

Safety training is one of the most crucial aspects of any company's quest to protect the health and safety of workers, regardless of the industry. Too many workers in California suffer workplace injuries within their first few months on the job because employers did not provide safety training from day one. The first thing new hires should learn is that safety comes first -- always.

Employers can test new hires to determine how much they know about the safety requirements of their jobs. Training can then be focused on the necessary aspects, and some employers use their experienced workers to guide new hires. Assigning each new worker a safety-conscious buddy who can provide valuable guidance that is based on experience can help employers to monitor new workers and correct their mistakes.

Even desk jobs can cause serious health problems

You know that working in a physical profession carries certain health and safety risks. Construction workers, loggers, deep-sea fishermen, landscape professionals: All of these people face a great risk of getting injured on the job.

Many people think they'll avoid work-a-day hazards by getting an office job; siting at a desk all day, working on a computer. It seems safe. It seems healthy. But the numbers of people reporting injuries resulting from office work continues to climb every year. 

Workplace accidents: 2 workers crushed to death on Fresno ranch

California employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. They must ensure that workers are aware of the hazards posed by their jobs, and safety training must be provided to prevent on-the-job injuries. Sadly, not all employers prioritize employee safety, and lives are often lost in preventable workplace accidents.

A recent industrial accident caused the deaths of two workers at a ranch in Fresno County. An incident report indicates that two workers, ages 66 and 31, were declared dead upon the arrival of Cal Fire and paramedics. Reportedly, emergency workers responded to the ranch shortly after 11 a.m. on a recent Saturday.

Workplace injuries include high rate of carpal tunnel syndrome

Authorities in California expressed their concern over the number of workers in the state who are victims of carpal tunnel syndrome. The California Department of Public Health says over 139,000 such cases were reported in the seven years from 2007 to 2014. Ligaments and bones form a rigid tunnel through which tendons and nerves run between the wrist and the hand. The tendons are used to bend the fingers, and the feeling in specific parts of the hand is provided by the median nerve. Repetitive use of the hands can bring about extremely painful workplace injuries.

Occupations with high rates of carpal tunnel syndrome include electronics and electrical workers along with electromechanical assemblers, attendants in coffee shops, cafeterias and food concession facilities, telephone operators and more. However, workers' compensation data shows that women are more susceptible to these workplace injuries, with high incidence rates among women working in facilities that process food and manufacture apparel, as well as administrative workers. Health authorities say this could be because the carpal tunnel in women is smaller than those of men.

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