The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health announced revised requirements for the medical surveillance of workers who risk exposure to silica particles. The new requirements will become effective on June 23, and they will not apply to the construction industry, which has separate silica requirements. A significant number of workers' compensation claims follow silica-related claims each year, and over two million workers nationwide work in conditions in which that expose them to silica dust.
At the start of each summer, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reminds employers about the risks of excessive exposure to heat. However, each year, workers' compensation claims are filed for heat-related illnesses. Although outdoor workers are at the highest risk, employers must not lose sight of the dangers of indoor heat. This year, the risk is exacerbated because many businesses have been closed for an extended period, and some workers are returning to work out of shape.
There is no shortage of awareness campaigns and warnings about the dangers of distracted driving. However, not enough attention is paid to distracted walking in California workplaces. A significant number of workers' compensation claims involve injuries suffered while workers were talking or texting on their cellphones.
Valley Fever time is around the corner. Construction and agricultural workers in California are at higher risk of becoming infected with the Coccidioides fungus from June through November. The spores from the fungus live in the dirt but become airborne when the soil is disturbed. A significant number of workers' compensation claims each year involve Valley Fever cases.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes strict safety regulations for all industries. Employers must provide workplaces that are free of known hazards. Safety standards include the safe operation of company vehicles. Safety training for vehicle operators is crucial, and all workers must receive training on safely sharing their workplace with vehicles. A significant number of workers' compensation claims involve injuries and fatalities caused by negligent drivers.
Foster Farms employs over 1,000 workers at two meat processing plants in Turlock. One plant was closed on a recent Tuesday after a worker lost his life in a workplace accident. Each year, a significant number of workers' compensation claims in California involve production line workers.
Employees in all industries in California must deal with safety hazards. Workers' compensation claims show that each occupation poses unique safety risks. Workers in several fields encounter the dangers posed by dogs every day. Data kept by the American Veterinary Medical Association indicates that an estimated 77 million dogs live in just over 48 million homes nationwide.
Workers in almost all California industries have to deal with electrical hazards, and employers must ensure that safety training includes identification and control of hazards that could cause electrical shocks, some of which could be fatal. Inexperience and inadequate training could have devastating consequences. A significant percentage of annual workers' compensation claims involve injuries caused by electricity.
Some of the most dangerous work environments in California are industrial facilities where workers risk making contact with moving parts of machines and equipment. A significant number of workers' compensation claims involve amputation injuries that were caused by the lack of lockout/tagout devices or the lack of safety training and supervision. Even with all the necessary LOTO equipment, many fingers or other body parts have been lost because workers became complacent.
Warehouses pose more safety hazards than many people think. Workers' compensation claims for warehouse-related injuries in California include forklift injuries, slip and trip-and-fall accidents, crush injuries caused by poorly stacked loads toppling over, and injuries caused by hazardous chemicals. In addition, a significant percentage of reported injuries involve lifting and manual material handling.