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Stanislaus County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Could your workplace be making you ill?

Exposure to chemicals and other toxins in your California workplace can endanger your health, sometimes for the rest of your life. In many cases, workers and even employers are not aware of toxic dangers. This can make it difficult to know whether you are simply sick or if your symptoms arose because of exposure to toxic substances in the workplace.

It is critical to uncover the reason for your symptoms for several reasons:

  • If you are ill because of workplace toxins, workers' compensation will cover your medical expenses and replace some of your lost wages.
  • The earlier you seek treatment for your symptoms, even if they are not related to your job, the greater your chance to make a recovery.
  • Identifying potential toxic hazards in your place of work will protect you and your coworkers going forward.

Reasons ladder-involved workplace accidents occur

Almost every occupation in the state of California requires the use of a ladder at some point, even if only to reach a file folder on a high shelf. They come in many shapes and sizes from small step-stools and rolling ladders to enormous extension units and folding platform ladders. Don't let those innocent-looking ladders fool you! These useful mechanisms are full of hazards that could leave you with broken bones or brain damage. In some cases, falling from a ladder may even result in death.

How do workplace accidents involving a ladder occur? In many cases, it is the fault of users who have become too complacent about safety. Other times, the ladder may have been defective in some manner. Below are other common reasons ladder-related accidents happen.

  • Skipping steps: Many ladder accidents happen because workers miss a step when descending. For safety reasons, make it a point to descend ladders carefully and never skip any of the steps.
  • Wrong ladder: There is a ladder for every type of job. Make sure you always choose a ladder of the right shape and size for whatever work task you are performing.
  • Overreaching: Although it is tempting to go ahead and reach over to access another area, it is unwise to do so. Descending the ladder and then moving it into the proper position will prevent a ladder accident.
  • Insufficient contact: Safety experts recommend maintaining three points of contact when using ladders. This means two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand should always be on the ladder.
  • Uneven ground: To keep the ladder from tipping or falling, make sure the area underneath your ladder is even and clear of debris at all times.

What are the most dangerous California occupations?

Any job can be dangerous. Even office workers might trip over a piece of frayed carpet, bang their heads and suffer a brain injury, for example. However, some jobs are far more dangerous than others and people in them are more likely to suffer workplace injuries. While it may be possible to obtain compensation for an injury, it is better to know where danger waits so that you can avoid tragedy altogether.

California is an ideal location for many different types of industries. Do you know which of these possible work opportunities present the most danger to employees? Following are the most dangerous jobs in the state.

  • Piloting: Thirty California aircraft pilots died on the job between 2012 and 2016.
  • Trucking: With 295 deaths between 2012 and 2016, the trucking industry is one of the state's most dangerous occupations.
  • Construction: More than 110 California construction workers perished between 2012 and 2016. It is reasonable to conclude that hundreds more suffered workplace injuries.
  • Logging: Between 2012 and 2016, 15 loggers in California lost their lives while working. In fact, logging is the nation's most dangerous occupations.
  • Tree trimming/grounds maintenance: These workers are often at risk of suffering workplace injuries or death. Between 2012 and 2016, 86 grounds workers died while performing their duties.
  • Farming: Just over 115 California farm workers died on the job between 2012 and 2016.

Defective scaffolding harms many California construction workers

Working in the California construction industry comes with many everyday risks. Most employees fully accept the risk of suffering construction worker accidents, but what happens when these accidents happen because of third-party negligence? For example, if the scaffolding that construction workers rely on each and every day contains defects, it needlessly adds to the risk of suffering injury.

In our practice, we have seen far too many construction workers injured because of substandard scaffolding. Our injury attorneys wonder why these types of construction accidents keep occurring. We decided to look into the matter and found some disturbing conclusions.

Workplace accident and injury risks for orchard workers

Those of us who live in California are proud of our reputation for growing excellent fruits and vegetables. Our fruit industry is especially prolific thanks to the wonderful weather we typically experience. It is a booming industry that requires many workers, but the orchard industry does pose the risk of suffering workplace accidents such as:

  • Accidental exposure to toxic chemicals and other substances
  • Falling from ladders or equipment
  • Experiencing a motor vehicle (trucks, tractors, etc.) accident

The injuries caused by these workplace accidents range from muscle strains and joint sprains to broken bones, lacerations and head injuries, to name a few. Owners of responsible, well-established orchards understand the risks their workers face. As such, they carry workers' compensation to help injured employees acquire the help they need after an injury occurs.

Can Californians use their own doctor to treat work injuries?

Workers' compensation laws and regulations vary among states. While the differences are typically not very large, some of them may matter a great deal to those suffering from a workplace injury. One rule that affects California employees centers on what physician they can see following a work-related injury.

Many states allow workers to see the doctor of their choice after an injury. In California, this may not be a possibility. Unless you have predesignated a treating physician, you may have to receive treatment from a state-approved physician. Predesignating a physician can be confusing for workers. If you need assistance with this or with any other aspect of workers' compensation, consider seeking advice from an attorney.

Even office workers can suffer serious injuries on the job

Most people consider some jobs dangerous and other jobs safe. However, the truth is more complicated. Some jobs carry a statistically higher chance of a worker suffering a severe injury. Both hospital workers and construction workers are more likely than the average employee to get hurt on the job.

Statistics aside, there are risks in literally every single workplace environment that could result in serious employee injuries. People often think of office work as some of the safest work available in modern America. Reality is more nuanced than this assumption. Office workers can and do suffer serious injuries on the job.

Violence in the healthcare industry and a possible new solution

Those employed in the California healthcare and social service industries know all too well how violence can lead to workplace injuries. These workers deserve praise for choosing to work in potentially dangerous situations such as emergency rooms, correctional facilities and social service settings to name just a few. Unfortunately, praise alone is not enough to make victims as whole as possible in the wake of a violent encounter.

Just recently, Representative Joe Courtney reintroduced the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. If passed, this act will require social service and health care employers to produce and carry out a comprehensive plan to prevent workplace violence. Below is a list of the act's important elements.

  • The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will create a standard for employers to follow. OSHA will be required to come up with this standard as quickly as possible.
  • The act will apply to a large array of work settings such as hospitals, mental health clinics, residential treatment facilities, correctional and detention facilities, substance disorder treatment centers, group homes, medical clinics and many others.
  • Employers will be required to implement several key points in their prevention plans. Examples include improved violent encounter reporting methods, unit-specific safety assessments, adequate staffing for security as well as for patient care and making physical improvements to the working environment when necessary.

California construction worker dies after forklift accident

The construction industry poses many health and safety risks to its workforce. Construction workers' accidents can occur without warning and may result in catastrophic injuries or death. Recently, one of these workers lost his life after what appears to be an accident involving a forklift.

The incident occurred in the Rohnert Park region of California. News reports indicate that the victim was assisting the operator of a telescopic forklift when the accident took place. Telescopic forklifts, or handlers, are vastly different from regular forklifts as they are larger and usually have a boom that telescopes out. According to a news report, the operator of this machine lost sight of the victim and accidentally backed over him.

Physical therapy compliance is critical for injured workers

Workers' compensation in California offers a number of benefits that protect workers who wind up sick or injured on the job. Temporary disability benefits, for example, can help workers cover their living expenses while unable to work due to an injury.

Permanent disability provides for workers whose injuries are so severe that they preclude any future professional pursuits. Retraining benefits can also help those injured so severely that their careers must change. The benefits that injured workers need the most, however, are usually medical benefits. Medical benefits cover the cost of the care that you received during your recovery.

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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