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Van Nuys Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation should evolve with changing economy

The world of work is ever changing. Where manufacturing and large corporations used to rule in California and around the country, entrepreneurs and the gig economy are taking over in increasing numbers. Workers' compensation came into existence as a means for providing protection and care regarding workplace injuries and illnesses.

In a recent California Supreme Court case, delivery drivers won a lawsuit making it harder for them to be classified as independent contractors. Typically, independent contractors do not receive the same benefits as employees. One result of the case was a formula, the ABC test, that determines that workers are employees if their activities are controlled by the company, the activities contribute to the core business of the company and the workers don't run an independent business while carrying out the work.

Extreme heat caused workplace illness that resulted in death

U.S. Postal Carriers brave the elements to deliver the nation's mail. Indeed the saying 'neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from their appointed rounds' has been long associated with the postal service. While they brave the elements, they still need to be protected from them. In a California case, a female postal worker contracted a workplace illness as a result of exposure to the elements and died.

The woman had just returned to work in Woodland Hills after a three month absence during which she was recovering from a broken ankle. The temperature reached 117 degrees that day. The carrier was found dead in her un-airconditioned mail truck. She reportedly died of hyperthermia, a condition caused by the body's inability to deal with the extreme heat coming from the environment.

How does workers' compensation deal with pre-existing injuries?

What happens when workers in California suffer injuries that aggravate pre-existing conditions? Are they eligible for workers' compensation benefits? Although the state-regulated insurance program was established to provide financial relief to cover medical expenses and lost wages, some exceptions exist regarding how and when the injuries were suffered. The first requirement is for the victim to be a legally employed worker.

Furthermore, the injury must have been suffered during on-duty activities and be medically confirmed; it must also prevent the employee from working regardless of whether it is an injury that aggravates a pre-existing condition or a new injury. Exclusions include self-inflicted injuries or those suffered while alcohol or drugs impaired the worker. Injuries sustained during altercations started by the injured worker or while participating in criminal activities will not be covered by workers' compensation.

4 hazards that are common in many industries

Workers in various industries all face some of the more common hazards. For employers, knowing what these are can help them to improve employee safety. It is necessary for everyone to embrace the culture of workplace safety.

No matter what type of business you work in, these are some of the dangers and issues that should be addressed by employers.

Heavy equipment can cause fatal workplace accidents

People maintain their vehicles in an attempt to ensure that they are safe to drive. Major parts of a vehicle, such as the brakes, are checked frequently to ensure that they will work properly when needed. Heavy equipment that is used in agriculture also requires maintenance and monitoring to ensure that it remains safe and performs as intended in order to avoid workplace accidents. A recent equipment failure resulted in the death of a worker in California.

The man's brother was informed that the worker had been in the process of shutting down a wind machine. The machine reportedly began to vibrate and the propeller reportedly fell off. The worker attempted to get out of the way but was hit by the 600 pound blade of the propeller. He was conscious following the injury and was transported by ambulance to a nearby school from which he was airlifted to Kaweah Delta Medical Center. He later died as a result of his injuries.

Workplace injuries can rob a child of future memories

Construction work is not without its risks. Working outside, working from high locations and working with heavy equipment can all create potential hazards. Safety precautions and safety training can protect workers in many situations, but accidents remain an ever-present danger in California. Workplace injuries can result from these dangers.

One such accident occurred at the site of a new Amazon fulfillment center that is being built in Bakersfield. A construction worker died as a result of an apparent fall at the construction site. Firefighters from the Kern County Fire Department said they were called to the scene in the vicinity of 1900 Petrol Road about 3:30 on a recent afternoon.

Compensation may be available for workplace injuries

Employment in California and across the country is up. Many of those jobs are in the service industries, including restaurants. Service employees have a right to expect a safe place to work. A San Diego taqueria does not appear to be meeting that expectation and that has resulted in workplace injuries.

A worker fell off a ladder and was seriously injured in January of last year. The establishment failed to report the injury and also failed to remediate the conditions that led to the accident. An investigation following the accident uncovered 10 safety violations.

Utility workers not immune from workplace accidents

Utility workers in California strive every day to maintain the power grid that provides power to people in the state. The troubleshooters in particular face dangers every day in responding to problems with transformers, power lines and other components of the system. Dealing with such dangers can result in workplace accidents.

A lineman was injured while working on a faulty transformer. The worker, a first responder in the event of electrical problems, was working on a faulty transformer. The failed transformer had cut power for over 400 customers in the Santa Clara Valley area. The lineman was working from the bucket of a cherry picker when the transformer reportedly exploded, causing a fire that involved the power pole, the cherry picker truck and another vehicle.

New industry not free from workplace accidents

The legalization of marijuana in California has led to a new industry. New industries are not immune to workplace accidents.  An accident caused by a propane explosion at a company in Santa Cruz caused an employee to be seriously burned. 

An employee of the company, Future 2 Labs Health Services, was working in a portable storage unit and was extracting oil from cannabis leaves. Propane was used in the extraction process and a spark caused an explosion. The worker was burned in the accident and was reportedly hospitalized for several days.

7 construction injuries that are common and preventable

The construction industry is a tough one, not only because it is impacted by the state of the economy, but also because there are many safety hazards. Each time they report for a shift, construction workers are faced with the possibility of being injured or killed. This risk is increased when construction companies don't provide safe working conditions.

Some injuries are more common at these sites than others. It is imperative the construction companies take proactive steps to prevent them. Workers should also do their part to remain safe, but the onus falls on the company.

  • Injured bones: Fractured, broken and crushed bones can occur due to the heavy machines and general work conditions on these sites.
  • Lacerations: Sharp objects and power tools can cause injuries if they aren't being used properly. The broken area of the skin can allow germs into the body, which can cause infections.
  • Head injuries: Injuries to the head are common primarily due to falling objects. They are the reason why helmets should be worn at all times when a person is in a construction zone.
  • Traumatic amputations: Machinery and heavy objects at construction sites can lead to crushing injuries that cause amputated digits or limbs. Sharp edges and power tools like saws can slice through bones causing an amputation.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Falling objects, falls from heights and being struck by swinging items can all lead to injuries to the spinal cord. Unfortunately, this might be a life-long injury that prevents a person from being able to ever work again.
  • Heat stroke: The temperatures at construction zones can soar during the summer months. Potable water, restroom facilities and cool areas can keep workers protected are essential. Workers should also be empowered to stop working to cool off when necessary.
  • Loss of vision or hearing: Loud noises can cause hearing loss, so hearing protection must be worn on these sites. Chemicals and flying particles can cause eye damage, which is why ocular protection must be worn at all times when working around these hazards.

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