Cellphones have become part of the lives of most people in California, so much so that they go nowhere without their mobile phones. Many workers may not understand why employers discourage or even forbid cellphone activities during work time. A superintendent of a masonry manufacturer in another state recently tested the theory that cellphones on the worksite adversely impact productivity and worker safety, which often lead to workers' compensation claims for injuries suffered in preventable accidents.
Along with California's achievement in being leaders in the production of vegetables, fruit, nuts, wine, flowers and cotton, comes the problem of high numbers of occupational injuries. Each year, a significant amount of claims for workers' compensation benefits is filed by workers in the agriculture industry. Farmworkers work with dangerous equipment such as tractors, large farm animals, and significant hazards of electrocution by underground and overhead power lines.
Most employees in California find comfort in the fact that their employers will have their backs if they should suffer work-related injuries. However, they might not be aware of the requirements for filing workers' compensation benefits claims. They can also benefit from learning which benefits they could expect to receive in the event of an occupational illness or injury.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued guidelines for precautionary measures to take to protect employees from exposure to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Although workers' compensation will likely cover work-related infections, the agency noted that health care workers and those who work in laboratory settings would be at higher risks than in other occupations. Risk assessments must determine activities and tasks that could expose workers and employers must have clear plans for action when exposure incidents occur.
A family in San Rafael recently lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident. Along with their heartache, they will likely also have to cope with unanticipated expenses and lost income. This is where the California workers' compensation system typically comes into play by providing survivors' benefits.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reported that California workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Fresno appear to face exceptionally high injury risks. Analysis of OSHA records shows that 307 occupational illnesses and injuries were reported at that facility in the twelve months from June 2018 through May 2019. The agency further reports that the injury rate at this fulfillment center is triple the rate of injuries in this industry nationwide, which is reflected in the number of workers' compensation claims.
Technological advancements have brought about a brand new injury said to be caused by using tech gadgets. Forward Head Posture (FHP) is caused by using tech gadgets like tablets, phones and other devices. While FHP is common among teenagers, it is also developing into an occupational hazard. Workers whose jobs require the frequent use of handheld devices might have questions about how the California workers' compensation system will handle claims for injuries caused by excessive strain on vertebrae in the neck and spine as a result of FHP.
According to a report issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the number of work-related deaths in 2018 was 422 -- compared to 376 in 2017. Too many families have to turn to the workers' compensation insurance system for financial assistance each year. A spokesperson for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says not enough is done to keep workers safe.
A significant number of workplace accidents in California involve the lack of adequate safety standards. Roof workers often rely on their employers to provide the necessary fall protection. Unfortunately, not all employers prioritize employee safety, which is likely reflected in the number of workers' compensation claims that are filed each year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are over one million emergency room visits across the country each year for serious hand injuries caused by workplace accidents. Safety authorities cite distractions as the primary cause for many of these injuries. Although workers might find comfort in the fact that the workers' compensation system will cover their medical expenses and lost wages, it's important to stop and think of the consequences of losing a hand, or even just a finger.