Employers in California are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Each industry, including the marijuana sector, has its unique hazards that are typically covered by workers' compensation insurance. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently proposed penalties of more than $50,000 after completing an investigation into a June incident at a pot facility in Santa Cruz County.
Construction accidents in California involving cranes have had devastating consequences in the past. Many families were left having to rely on the death benefits paid by the workers' compensation insurance program. In some of those instances, investigators determined that unqualified crane operators caused the accidents.
Many business owners in California choose to celebrate accomplishments and milestones by arranging parties for staff members during December. Alcohol is served at many of these celebrations, and it is no secret that alcohol consumption frequently leads to risky scenarios. Many workers are unsure of their eligibility for workers' compensation benefits if they should be injured during such festivities.
As devastating wildfires ravage California, there is an urgency in efforts by authorities to protect employees. At the same time, there was an urgency in the efforts of farm owners to get crops off the fields to prevent smoke and suit damage. Labor unions expressed their concern for low-income construction workers, farmworkers and others who earn their incomes in the outdoors. Some of the workers on smaller farms might not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
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.