Van Nuys Workers' Compensation Blog

Mine safety and workplace accidents

It is well known that mining can be a dangerous occupation. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) exists to enforce safety regulations intended to safeguard a miner's well-being in California. Even with such safeguards in place, workplace accidents may still occur.

In a recent mining accident, a miner suffered a serious head injury when a piece of equipment slipped and fell. The object struck the miner, causing him to fall 7.5 feet. His head injury resulted from the fall, not the falling object, and had a handrail been in place at the time, it may have prevented his fall in the first place.

Workplace accidents: Construction safety should be a priority

When construction workers report to a job site they want to believe that the site is safe and that the company they work for has done their best to ensure their safety. Such precautions could protect against workplace accidents happening in California. A roofing company was recently cited by Cal/OSHA for violations of fall protection safety.

California Premier Roofscapes, Inc. was cited for failing to ensure that their employees were wearing fall protection harnesses and other protective gear. Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers nationwide. In California, there have been 162 serious injuries and nine deaths due to falls since 2014.

Lead in the air can cause workplace illness

It is well known that lead is a toxic substance. High levels of lead in drinking water have led to a major crises in various locations throughout the country. If lead in the water is a serious problem, elevated levels of lead in the air at a factory could also warrant being described as a serious problem. In California, that serious problem exists and can lead to serious workplace illness.

Recycling is normally considered an environmentally positive practice. However, one form of recycling, melting down car batteries to reclaim the lead contained in them, poses many potential dangers. One such plant in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles, Exide Technologies, may have endangered their workers by failing to adequately protect them from elevated lead levels in the air. Breathing air that contains elevated levels of lead is known to increase the risk for heart disease, kidney disease, reproductive issues, and muscle and joint problems.

Workplace injuries go largely unreported among theater workers

There has been much study in California and elsewhere in recent years about the impact of head concussions on athletes. That is indeed a serious problem but another area that is largely ignored is the incidence of workplace injuries, including concussions, in the theater industry. A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that theater workers have high rates of head injuries and that they are seldom reported, diagnosed or treated.

It is common sense to add also to that category the workers on movie production sets. Many of the same pitfalls are confronted by workers in the movie-making industry. Some of the causes are poor lighting, stage equipment, negligence by co-workers and preparing scenes dealing with violence or combat. Most of the workers in the study suffered head injuries having the characteristics of concussions. Few got the kind of medical care that would be necessary for a closed-head injury.

Dealing with a fall in a California workplace

The occurrence of slips and trips in the workplace can be underestimated and seen only as minor events. However, workplace slips, trips and falls account for hundreds of deaths each year in the United States. The good news is that they can be prevented, and, in addition, the state of California has protections in place for those who have suffered a workplace injury like a fall.

The Department of Labor has estimated that slips and falls account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths per year. In addition, they create many serious injuries, and account for 95 million lost work days per year.

Workplace illness: Is job-related depression compensable?

Most employees in California are likely aware that their employers carry workers' compensation insurance that will provide financial assistance if they should suffer workplace injuries. However, what happens when a worker contracts a workplace illness or suffers job-related depression? Psychological injuries can be debilitating, and costly long-term treatment might be required, but not all employers view it as a compensable condition.

Job-related depression can be classified as primary or secondary. If the condition was caused by mental suffering in the workplace as the result of sexual harassment or bullying, it is regarded as primary job-related depression. These claims are often rejected, and motivating it might require the victim to show exceptional circumstances -- much more than would typically be necessary for proving physical injuries.

Workplace accidents: Foundry worker loses both legs

There are numerous foundries in business in the state of California and all over the nation. A foundry is a manufacturing facility that makes metal castings. The heavy equipment and the manufacturing processes used in the operations often lend themselves to potential workplace accidents. One foundry in Alhambra faces fines for violations of health and safety guidelines after an employee's legs were amputated.

According to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, Alhambra Foundry has been fined over $280,000 after an Aug. 2017 accident. Reports show that two employees were working on an auger screw conveyor on an air filtration device. The equipment had not been properly locked out or de-energized, per documentation. When another worker energized the equipment to conduct a test, one of the employees who had been working on the conveyor was pulled into it. In efforts to free him from the machinery, amputation of the man's legs was necessary.

OSHA's role in reducing workplace injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a national organization charged with ensuring the safety of workers throughout California and the rest of the country. The agency's policies extend to around 130 million employees at over eight million places of business. A congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives from another state recently held a hearing to review OSHA's role in preventing workplace injuries as well as creating policies that protect employers and employees alike.

The representative noted that while OSHA's goals are to implement protections in the workplace, many employers are confused by the policies issued by the agency. Many requirements create hardships on some business owners as they attempt to comply with the regulations. Smaller companies, in particular, simply do not have adequate resources to meet some of the standards. Unfortunately, customers may experience higher prices for products and services as the costs of compliance are passed along to them.

Workplace accidents: Man electrocuted at chemical plant

Chemical manufacturing plants in California and elsewhere around the nation are potentially hazardous work locations. There are dangerous raw materials at the work sites that are used in a variety of volatile processes. Workplace accidents can occur, despite the presence of extensive safety procedures and government regulations. Unfortunately, an employee at a chemical plant in another state recently died following an early morning incident.

The local public safety office reported that a employee was electrocuted while on the job at a manufacturing plant. The company reportedly makes calcium carbide at this facility. A corporate spokesperson referred to the incident as a workplace accident. She stated that the safety of the company's workers is of extreme importance. Government officials will be investigating the cause of the accident and the company will work in cooperation with them.

What are my workers’ compensation rights during recovery?

Suffering an injury at work is always stressful, as it can lead to uncertainty about how quick the recovery will be. There are also emotional and financial impacts on you and your family. You may also doubt whether you will be given help and support by your employer while you are in the recovery process.

In the state of California, there is a great deal of support in place for injured workers. Many who get injured on the job still may be confused about their rights during their recoveries, as well as the process for returning back to work.

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