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Orange County Workers Compensation Law Blog

Steps an employer can take if an employee becomes injured

While all California businesses are required to take certain safety precautions in order to protect their employees, there are some professions where employees will always be at risk for injury. If an employee does become injured while on the job, there are certain steps that should be taken.

The absolute first thing that an employer should do should an employee become injured is helping that employee seek medical attention. If the injury is serious or life threatening, the employer should contact emergency services. If the situation is a non-emergency, the employer should ensure that the employee gets to a medical care facility. Once the employee has begun to receive medical treatment, the employer should then secure the scene of the accident to avoid any other potential work injuries. Paperwork regarding the incident should be completed within 24 hours.

Dealing with occupational hearing loss in California

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is the third-most common chronic condition in older American adults. It afflicts 11 percent of the working population, and 24 percent of cases involving workers' hearing loss occurred due to noise exposure at their job sites. Any noise that is louder than 85 decibels is considered to be hazardous.

Certain substances that workers are exposed to in the workplace may also result in hearing loss. For instance, excess mercury or carbon dioxide in the air could cause hearing loss or other hearing issues. It is estimated that 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise while 10 million are exposed to chemicals that could lead to hearing loss. This is why having a hearing loss surveillance program is vital for any organization.

What are an employer's responsibilities in the workplace?

Employers in California have a responsibility to comply with all relevant workplace safety standards that are set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Because workers may not be aware of these OSHA standards, employers are required to inform workers about the health and safety guidelines and provide them with safety training.

To make certain that health and safety requirements are met, employers must ensure that all of the equipment that is being used at a job site is safe and properly maintained. If a particular job has potential hazards that cannot be avoided, workers must be sufficiently warned about these hazards through signage. Before working with hazardous chemicals, workers must be trained by their employers on the proper handling techniques and the risks of exposure to those substances.

Preventing injuries while erecting walls

Many California construction workers are involved in erecting and installing both interior and exterior walls as a routine part of their jobs. Unfortunately, numerous accidents occur every year when workers fall while doing so.

Because of the associated risks involved with interior and exterior wall erection, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has several guidelines and regulations in place to help to ensure workplace safety. Any employee who may be subjected to fall hazards must be provided with adequate safety training as outlined by these regulations.

Daylight saving time causes increase in workplace injuries

Each spring, most people, including California residents, set their clocks ahead one hour. Research based on the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration injury data from 1983 to 2006 suggests that the hour of sleep lost due to daylight saving time could be tied to the 5.7 percent spike in workplace injuries that occurred the day following each daylight saving time change. In addition to a greater number of injuries, researchers say injuries were more severe and caused a loss of nearly 68 percent more workdays.

Daylight saving time caused U.S. workers to get about 40 minutes less sleep than normal, which study authors suggest is enough to cause attention levels to decline. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it takes most people a few days to adjust to the lost hour of sleep.

California worker safety and nail gun hazards

Although nail guns are both easy to use and help increase job productivity, they pose special hazards to workers due to the velocity of the nail's discharge from the gun. Workers should thus be aware of the risks involved with nail guns and to take steps in order to minimize their risks of injury.

Workers in the construction industry have the highest risk of nail gun injuries. According to a 2006 study, two out of every five apprentice carpenters reported that they were injured by a nail gun at least once during their four year training period. One out of five reported at least two injuries, while one out of 10 reported incurring three or more injuries from nail guns. Annually, 37,000 people go to the emergency room for nail gun injury treatment.

Vibration and workplace injuries in California

While most California employees are probably aware of the possibility of having a workplace accident and becoming injured, they may not first think of the types of injuries they might suffer due to long-term exposure to vibration in the workplace. Vibration injuries, however, are a very real and documented type of workplace injury, commonly affecting people who use power tools as a part of their daily jobs.

According to medical experts, vibration injuries result from two broad types of exposure, either hand-arm or whole-body vibration. A common injury type that can result from hand-arm vibration exposure is carpal tunnel syndrome. Hand-arm vibration can kill nerve endings in the area, causing increasing difficulty for the worker in his or her ability to grip.

Cave-in protection necessary in trenches

Some occupations come with inherent dangers, and those that work in trenches know that a cave-in can result in injuries or death. Since the risks of trench work are well known, there are many practices that can protect workers in California against collapses.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued standards for safe working conditions, and protective systems should be in place in trenches greater than 5-feet deep. This is very important in trenches, as there might be no warning before a collapse, and workers may suffocate or be crushed by dirt before they can escape. Protective systems are not always used, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration found that lack of such systems was a major cause of fatalities involving trench accidents.

Why falls continue to be a problem in the workplace

In California and around the country, falls are a persistent hazard in workplace settings. A serious fall can occur even when a worker is just walking through the building or trying to change a light bulb. According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 605 workers were killed and approximately 212,000 more were injured as a result of falls in 2009.

The research indicates that most fatalities due to falls occurred in the construction industry. However, the health services, wholesale and retail industries saw the highest number of non-fatal fall injuries. In most cases, the falls were associated with wet floors, cluttered or unstable walking areas, unprotected edges, wall openings and floor holes.

CALOSHA fines 2 companies in connection with worker death

On May 18, a 59-year-old construction worker from Long Beach lost his life while working on an old railroad bridge in Riverside that was being demolished. The bridge was closed down for construction on Highway 91 during the road-widening job. The bridge collapsed, causing the worker to fall onto the freeway, according to a Caltrans spokesperson. She also stated that the reason for the railroad bridge demolition was the addition of two carpool lanes to the 91 Freeway. This was being accomplished via a new bridge that would be wide enough to have room for the expansion.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the bridge buckled and twisted under the man at approximately 3:15 a.m. as he was cutting part of it in half. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital at around 4 a.m.