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.
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.
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.
Federal and state safety authorities prescribe strict regulations to protect workers nationwide, including California, from the dangers posed by combustible dust. All chemical manufacturing plants mix hazardous compounds, and employers must protect employees from known hazards that could cause workplace injuries. They must comply with specific and general safety standards.
Workers in California who are exposed to dust in areas in which valley fever is endemic are vulnerable to be infected by the airborne Coccidioides immitis fungus. It typically infects the lungs to cause valley fever, but it could spread to other tissues. When this happens, the condition is called disseminated coccidioidomycosis. Fortunately, infected workers have the same rights to workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages as those who suffer other workplace injuries.
California workers in all industries are vulnerable to back injuries. These workplace injuries threaten employees from construction, warehousing and transportation industries to office workers and cashiers. However, proper safety training can prevent back injuries, and the responsibility to provide such training is on the shoulders of the employer.
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.
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.
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.
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.