Van Nuys Workers' Compensation Blog

Restaurants must provide workers' compensation insurance coverage

A person working in a restaurant in California has a right to expect a safe work environment, but restaurant work can be dangerous. Between hot surfaces, slippery floors, sharp knives and heavy pots, there is ample opportunity for accidental injury. Restaurants are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Sadly, not all establishments comply with this requirement.

A recent joint investigation near San Francisco conducted by the District Attorney's office, Department of Industrial Relations and the Employment Development Department found nine restaurants that were not in compliance with the requirement to provide workers' compensation. The restaurants were fined. They are also subject to misdemeanor criminal prosecution.

Extreme heat continues to be possible cause of workplace illness

Extreme summer heat continues to be a problem in much of the country, including California. It is well known that prolonged exposure to high temperatures can result in serious workplace illness. Exposure to high temperatures was responsible for the death of at least 783 workers in the United States, and over 70,000 suffered heat related injuries between the years of 1992 - 2016.

While there are no national standards or precautions in place for dealing with the extreme heat, in 2005, California became the first state in the country to impose such standards. These regulations mandate rest, water and shade breaks for outdoor workers. More hot weather is forecast for parts of California, and precautions should be taken to protect workers exposed to the heat.

Suffering an orthopedic injury in a California workplace

Employers in the state of California have a legal responsibility to make sure that their workplace is a safe one. This means that they should do everything that is reasonably possible in order to prevent injuries from occurring. In addition, many workplaces are legally obliged to take out a certain type of insurance that is known as workers' compensation.

Workers' compensation is a type of insurance coverage that helps employees who have been injured and suffered damages while carrying out work-related activities. Workers can potentially recover the out-of-pocket costs that they have faced since becoming injured.

Workplace injuries can be fatal

Construction work carries with it inherent risks in California. Precautions are taken and safety rules and regulations are put in place in an attempt to reduce the risks. Workplace injuries, sometimes fatal, still happen.

A construction company was recently repaving a church parking lot in Palo Alto. The company was working on clearing leaves and debris from the parking lot in preparation for repaving. A Bobcat with a leaf blower attached to the back was being used to clear leaves. A 17-year-old worker was killed when the Bobcat ran over him. It is believed that the young man was kneeling down and that the driver of the Bobcat did not see him.

Poultry processing plants have a high rate of workplace injuries

There are many food processing companies in California and other states. Workplace injuries do occur in these plants but some of the highest injury rates occur in poultry processing plants. An employee of one such plant was getting ready for work on a poultry processing line. Machinery on the line malfunctioned and resulted in an unfortunate accident.

The employee, a woman, stumbled when a stand moved and her finger was pinched in the machinery. The result was an amputation of her finger. There were similar incidents at other plants in recent years. According to a Government Accountability Report (GAO), the industry of meat and poultry processing had the eighth-highest number of injury incidents of all industries in 2015.

Wildfires pose a threat of workplace illness

Summer in Southern California means wildfire season. While the fires are very dangerous to the trees and structures in the immediate vicinity of the fire, there are also dangers from the smoke that can affect the air quality in surrounding areas. Cal/OSHA advises that special precautions must be taken by employers whose workers may be exposed to these dangers. These measures are to help prevent workplace illness that may result from exposure to smoke from wildfires.

These protections include engineering controls such as filtration systems for inside work areas. Workers who must spend time outside should have access to dust masks designed specifically to filter the particulate matter found in smoke. If the air quality in a work area is deemed unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous, respiratory equipment is necessary.

Prevention of housekeepers' workplace injuries now in effect

Workers in the hospitality industry in California who work as housekeepers in hotels and other accommodation facilities now have an extra layer of protection that was absent before. Because of the excessive number of victims of workplace injuries in this industry, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health revised regulations for injury prevention. The updated rules became effective on July 1.

To prevent musculoskeletal injuries with housekeeping staff, employers must develop and establish musculoskeletal injury protection plans (MIPPS). The deadline for this is Oct. 1, and the written plans can form part of an existing Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. However, employees must have access to the written MIPPs while working their shifts. Although employers may have electronic plans available, housekeepers must have easy access to it.

Deaths from workplace accidents are on the rise

Workers involved in construction, mining, manufacturing and other high risk occupations have the right to expect that there are adequate safety measures in place to help protect the workers from accidental injury or death in California. However, recent statistics show that the number of fatal workplace accidents has been on the rise in recent years. This reversed a long term trend of a decrease in accidental deaths in the workplace.

In an April 2018 report released by the AFL-CIO the number of workplace fatalities increased from 4,836 in 2015 to 5,190 in 2016. This equates to about 14 deaths per day. Specific reasons for the increase are not known although a lax enforcement of existing safety policies is frequently given as an explanation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cites a shortage of inspectors. OSHA suggests the number of inspectors has been declining in recent years.

What happens when your workers' compensation claims gets denied?

Every day in California, workers get hurt while they are on the job. Workplace injuries can happen to anyone, in any industry. Age, experience and physical ability often don't factor into workplace injuries. While there are things that you and your employer can do to limit your risk, there is no way to completely eliminate the potential for a workplace injury. Even spilled coffee could mean a sudden and unexpected injury via a slip-and-fall.

After getting hurt, you should always report the accident right away to your employer. If there are medical facilities at your work, you can seek immediate medical evaluation. Many people have to leave their place of employment, seeking medical care at a hospital or urgent care facility nearby. Once a doctor has substantiated your injuries, you are able to file a claim for workers' compensation.

Summer heat and workplace illness

Summer is here and if June has been an example of how the temperatures will go, it is likely to be a hot one in California. While no one can prevent a workplace illness from ever happening, it is possible to reduce the chances of being afflicted with a heat-related malady. Being aware of the symptoms can help lessen the risk of getting an illness brought about by excessive heat exposure.

Heat-related illness can manifest in many different ways. Dehydration can cause severe muscle cramps. Drinking liquids with electrolytes can help to keep a person hydrated. Excessive heat exposure can also cause circulatory problems as blood pools to the extremities to try to cool them and this can cause a lack of blood flow to the brain, causing a person to faint. Occasional breaks to a cooler area can reduce the risk of this happening.

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