With the wildfires in different areas of California, it is not only firefighters but also all other workers whose health is threatened. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued advisories with guidelines to help employers to keep their workers safe. Although the toxic smoke in the air poses a more severe threat to outdoor workers, precautions must also be taken to protect workers in enclosed areas. Many workers' compensation claims will likely follow the devastating seasonal wildfires.
A significant percentage of the workforce in California suffer overexertion injuries because they attempt to do more work than certain body parts are capable of handling. Sprained ligaments and strained or torn tendons and muscles caused by lifting, pushing and pulling objects give rise to many workers' compensation benefits claims. The best way in which workers can prevent such injuries is by knowing and respecting their physical limits, and listening to their bodies when they warn them to stop.
Gun ranges nationwide, including in California, pose lead poisoning hazards for both workers and customers. Fortunately, affected employees can claim workers' compensation benefits. A gun range in another state that opened only four months ago recently received a warning citation after high lead levels were identified in the firing range area and also the merchandise area that is frequented by customers. The business owner explained that a defective air filtration system caused air from the range to flow into the showroom. A separate system in the firing range area pushes lead-laden air out.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has strict regulations related to working at heights, and compliance can save many lives. Many workers' compensation claims are filed each year by fall accident victims that were not wearing fall harnesses. A securely anchored safety harness can arrest a fall before the victim strikes a lower level, and providing the worker is not left suspended for too long, he or she might walk away unscathed.
Occupational hazards exist in all industries, and often the only way to avoid injuries and fatalities is by absolute compliance with safety regulations. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reported that it is investigating an industrial accident that occurred at a steel fabrication company in Spring Valley. This incident claimed the life of one employee, and a workers' compensation claim for death benefits will likely follow.
Federal safety authorities say millions of workers nationwide, including some in California, are exposed to excessive occupational noise every year. While there are strict limits to the decibel levels that are allowed and the hours of exposure, not all employers comply with the safety regulations. Those could also be the employers who might want to prevent affected workers from claiming workers' compensation benefits for employees who suffered occupational hearing loss.
Employees in the landscaping industry in California face multiple safety hazards, one of which is the frequently overlooked threat of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This occupational hazard threatens workers in all occupations in which they use vibrating power tools such as chain saws, grinders, drills and jackhammers. If HAVS are not treated timely and left to develop fully, the harm will be irreversible because there is no surgical procedure or other cure for it. If HAVS can be proved to be work-related, affected employees might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
Workers in construction zones on California roads face multiple occupational hazards. Along with the dangerous nature of their work, and the heavy equipment on the work site, these workers have to deal with the threats posed by negligent drivers who travel through the work zone. Many workers' compensation claims involve injuries caused by distracted, impaired or otherwise careless drivers.
Exposure to hazardous chemicals can have severe consequences. Workers' compensation claims in California frequently follow such exposure, and victims might suffer long-term health effects. At least 40 people were affected by an unknown chemical hazard in Los Angeles County. The incident occurred at a facility that manufactures specialty defense industry and aerospace products.
The fact that firefighters can develop cancer as a result of their employment has been established. Under California laws, the state's workers' compensation insurance program regards cancer as a compensable work-related disease for firefighters. However, most such claims are said to be initially denied.