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Los Angeles Workers Compensation Law Blog

New law to prevent indoors heat-related workplace injury

Every summer, California employers are reminded to protect their employees concerning outdoor jobs and heat exposure. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes strict rules and guidelines for prevention of heat illness. However, none of those apply to indoor facilities, where temperatures can soar to dangerous levels. Many a workplace injury in these circumstances is heat-related.

Legislation was passed last year to address this issue. It gives Cal/OSHA until the beginning of 2019 to finalize rules that will govern heat management for the protection of workers in indoor facilities. The state senator who authored that bill is now looking at ways to fast-track the process. She suggested the fiscal impact assessment be skipped, believing that it is in the best interests of indoor workers.

Differences between workplace accidents, incidents, near misses

Safety advisors in California and elsewhere often urge business owners to encourage reporting of occurrences or near misses that occur. It could be the ideal way to involve employees in taking responsibility in establishing safer work environments with fewer workplace accidents. However, there are different types of dangerous events when it comes to occupational safety.

An incident is an event that was not planned, nor was it desired. It jeopardizes the safe completion of a project and could cause injury or illness. However, incidents are preventable even if they were not planned or desired, and crisis planning can be done for unanticipated incidents.

2 need surgery after construction accident on college campus

Construction workers will always face fall risks, regardless of whether they work in California or another state. Three construction workers were injured on a college campus in another state. Reportedly, the construction accident happened on a recent Thursday at the Ursinus College Innovation and Discovery Center on the campus. Two of the victims were admitted to a hospital, but the injuries to the third worker were said to be minor.

According to the college's communications manager, construction workers were setting up a steel trellis for welding on the building's fourth floor. For unknown reasons, the trellis fell onto three workers, causing serious injuries to two of them. Some students were apparently the first ones to realize what happened after hearing the loud crash. They alerted safety personnel on campus, who in turn summoned emergency responders.

Science teacher's claim for work-related illness rejected

A high-school science teacher in California says he is no longer able to take field trips with students, nor can he continue to coach soccer as he did for many years. The reason, he claims, is a work-related illness that he alleges was caused by exposure to pungent and hazardous fumes that have been emanating from the floors and walls of his classroom. He asserts it started after renovations were done at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, and despite many complaints, nothing has been done about it.

The science teacher says sewage oozes up into all the sinks in the science wing of the school. He claims that incidents of sewage spewing upward from drain pipes to almost reach the ceiling have been experienced by himself and another science teacher. He says the smell of hydrogen sulfide became overbearing -- so much so that he suffered breathing problems in his classroom last December. He reported swollen and watery eyes, irritated sinuses and a raging headache.

Hantavirus -- lung disease caused by clearing mouse nesting

Visitors to the popular Mono County ghost town at the Bodie State Historic Park may not even suspect that the California Department of Parks and Recreation employees at the facility seem to put their lives on the line while working there. This is what one employee's father alleges. He claims his son contracted a rare lung disease while working at the facility.

According to the father, his son lived in a leased cabin at the facility while he was employed as an aide at the park in July. Reportedly, he had a variety of duties, which included providing historical context to guests, cleaning and also doing pest control. During this task, he had to trap mice and then dispose of them. Apparently, the protective gear he wore while doing that was also worn during the cleaning up of mouse droppings and nesting materials throughout the camp.

Tesla employees claim violations of illness-protection rules

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health laws related to the management of hazardous chemicals are more strict than in most other states. All employers must establish illness and injury programs that are effective and provide protection for all their employees, regardless of whether they actually work with the chemicals on-site or not. Workers at the Tesla plant in Fremont claim that the company does not comply with these regulations.

Employees at the plant say the company does not provide the necessary safety training about the hazards to which they are exposed. They claim to be at risk of suffering long-term occupational illnesses as result of exposure to harmful chemicals. However, Tesla management denies these allegations, saying that all hazardous chemical used at the facility are monitored, and employees attend meetings at which they are educated in the proper and safe ways to use the chemicals.

Fogged-up eye protection can lead to serious workplace injury

Workers in different industries in California, like manufacturing, construction, utilities, chemical, oil and gas, and others rely on safety glasses to protect their eyes. The problem that many workers experience is the fogging up of the glasses -- often at critical times. Since a workplace injury can often happen in a split second, an obstructed view can prove very detrimental.

But what causes eyewear to fog up? Humidity and environmental heat are the most obvious reasons. This combination causes the moisture in the air to adhere to the outsides of the lenses. Also, when the job done by the person wearing eye protection causes exertion, his or her body temperature will rise, causing the production of sweat and heat in the facial area. As it dissipates into the atmosphere, it typically creates fog on the insides of the lenses.

Are forklifts workplace accidents waiting to happen?

California workers may find it interesting that there are over 856,000 forklifts operational nationwide. With so many of these machines in workplaces, it is not surprising that they cause an estimated 100 workers' deaths and more than 96,000 injuries -- of which about a third are serious -- every year. That might be why it is sometimes said that forklifts are workplace accidents waiting to happen.  

These figures are based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports, which also cite the typical causes of forklift accidents. These include the failure of employers to provide adequate training, careless operation, improper attachments and tools along with negligent maintenance. Fatalities and catastrophic injuries are mostly caused by forklifts tipping over or crushing workers against other surfaces.

Wood chipper causes critical workplace injury to tree trimmer

Owners of landscaping and tree trimming companies in California must ensure that their employees receive adequate training in the operation of dangerous equipment such as chain saws, wood chippers and other powered machines. According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, only qualified employees may operate any mechanical or motorized equipment. Frequent safety training sessions can ensure employees remain aware of the workplace injury hazards inherent to their industry.

Cal/OSHA has initiated an investigation into an incident in which a tree trimmer suffered critical injuries. Reportedly, the victim is an employee of a contractor tasked with trimming trees in a neighborhood street in Napa. Under undisclosed circumstances, a 24-year-old man who operated the wood chipper on site suffered severe injuries.

Wood rolling press causes severe on-the-job injury

Not even six months after receiving a fine of almost $12,000, an industrial facility in Perris is again the subject of an investigation by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The company is a manufacturer of wooden frameworks and support structures. The previous investigation concluded that employees without appropriate protective footwear were exposed to the possibility of an on\-the\-job injury due to multiple hazards in the workplace.

To compress wood for the manufacture of support structures, workers have to operate rolling press machines. On a recent Thursday morning, a 47-year-old man was operating a press when a piece of the wood he was feeding into the rollers caught his foot. His right leg was pulled along with the wood and compressed at the same time.

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