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Chula Vista California Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Forklift accidents bring many workers' compensation claims

A significant percentage of California businesses make use of forklifts, and these useful but dangerous pieces of equipment are used on construction sites, warehouses, fulfillment centers and more. However, forklift accidents also result in a significant number of workers' compensation claims. Safety authorities say compliance with federal and state regulations can prevent almost all these accidents.

The first step in safe forklift operation is adequate training. Only certified operators must work on forklifts, and they must know how to carry out routine inspections before every shift to identify the need for maintenance and repairs. Training must include proper parking procedures, including a rule to lower the fork when parking the vehicle. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a significant threat, and adequate ventilation is essential when these machines are used in enclosed areas.

Workers' compensation: Firefighters rescue suspended worker

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reported that it had launched an investigation into an incident in which a construction worker had to be rescued by the Orange County Fire Authority. The fire chief said that the incident occurred on a recent Tuesday morning. It is unclear whether there were injuries such as suspension trauma that might lead to a workers' compensation claim.

Reportedly, firefighters responded to the U.S. Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Building in West Santa Ana shortly after 8 a.m. to find a worker dangling on a rope at the height of the building's seventh floor. An incident report indicates that the worker, who is employed by a waterproofing company, was working on the repair of a section of concrete on the outside of the building.

4 office hazards that may cause work injuries

Working in an office may seem relatively simple and even mundane at times. Whether you are a secretary, accountant, office assistant or even the CEO, your workday probably comes with few harmful situations in general. However, that does not mean your office is completely safe.

Workplace injuries can occur anywhere; they do not just happen in factories or construction sites. Here are some office hazards that may result in a workplace accident:

Does workers' compensation cover all workplace injury incidents?

Most members of the California workforce can find comfort in the knowledge that someone will have their backs if they should suffer occupational injuries. The state-regulated workers' compensation insurance program would cover workplace injuries and illnesses, even if they resulted from the negligence of the workers or employers. However, there are specific circumstances under which benefits claims might be denied.

An employee who suffered injuries while alcohol or drugs impaired him or her might not be eligible for compensation. The state is entitled to test that employee for impairment, and if tests show that the alcohol or drugs were factors at the time of the incident that caused the injuries, benefits claims might be rejected. Injuries that happen when an employee is acting in violation of company policy or state or federal law will not be covered, nor will those that were self-inflicted or suffered when the worker was off duty.

Workers' compensation available for victims of trench collapses

Safety authorities remain concerned about the number of trench collapses or cave-ins that continue to cause injuries and fatalities on construction sites nationwide, including in California. A significant number of workers' compensation claims follow trench collapses every year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently underscored the importance of trench protection by distributing free stickers to remind employers and employees of the dangers posed by unprotected excavations.

The only way to prevent workers from being buried alive is to ensure that every trench has the appropriate protection. This is typically based on the analysis of the soil type, the location and other matters by a competent person. For example, certain soil types can make a relatively shallow trench -- three or four feet deep -- as dangerous as one that is 10 feet deep. Furthermore, workers must have safe access and egress from trenches, and the edges of excavations must be kept clear.

It seems Tesla employees keep workers' compensation system busy

Working in auto manufacturing plants appear to be extremely hazardous. That is if one looks at the many investigations launched into worker safety at the Fremont factory of Tesla Inc. According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the electric vehicle maker's Fremont plant is currently the subject of six ongoing investigations. Employees in this facility will likely find comfort in knowing that they are covered by the workers' compensation program of the state.

Reportedly, Cal/OSHA launched an investigation on Sept. 4 into a workplace accident in which a garbage bin was pushed by a forklift, wedging a worker between that bin and another one. On the following day, a second probe started to look into the circumstances of an incident in which the fingers of an employee became trapped in a power-bolting tool. The severity of these injuries is not known.

Workers' compensation claim or civil lawsuit -- or both?

It was recently reported that the president of a California engineering and construction company along with a project manager and a foreman would be facing criminal charges over the death of an employee in 2016. It was not reported whether the worker's surviving family has sought financial relief through the civil justice system with regard to the workplace accident. That potential claim would be separate from the death benefits that they likely claimed from the state's workers' compensation insurance system.

The workers' compensation program is a no-fault system, meaning that benefits can be sought regardless of whether the worker or the employer was at fault. This is intended to keep employers from facing a civil lawsuit every time a worker is injured. However, if there is proof of gross negligence by the employer, the injured worker or the surviving family members of a deceased worker may pursue additional financial recovery through the civil justice system.

Are bilingual workers more vulnerable to injuries?

Safety should be the most important concern in any workplace. Whether you work in nursing, education or construction, your workplace has hazards, and it is your employer's responsibility to provide training and resources to manage these hazards. In order to understand such training, though, you must understand the language the training is in. Language differences and barriers can compromise safety.

According to the journal Business Insurance, language barriers increase risks and hazards on construction sites — thus making injuries and deaths more likely. Consider the following reasons why a workplace with multiple languages may make staff more susceptible to injuries.

Workers' compensation may not be valid if fatal fall was suicide

One of the most significant risks that construction workers face is falling from heights. Many fatal falls have led to surviving family members filing death benefits claims with the California workers' compensation insurance system. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating a fatal fall accident that occurred on a recent Thursday morning.

Reportedly, an employee of a consulting firm hired by a construction company fell from a residential building that was under construction. Very little information about the accident was made available, except that it occurred at approximately 6 a.m. and that the 19-year-old worker fell from the upper floor. However, it is reportedly suspected that it was a suicide rather than an accident.

Injured firefighters can rely on workers' compensation benefits

It is that time of the year again when wildfires tear through communities in California. Every summer, injured firefighters and grieving families of deceased firefighters file workers' compensation benefits claims to help them cope with unanticipated financial losses. Lives have already been lost and injuries suffered in wildfires in Northern California this year.

A spokesperson for Cal Fire says this fire's fierceness has firefighters saving people rather than containing the fire. They are exposed to temperatures up to 110 degrees and 30 mph winds with 5 to 10 percent humidity. To make things worse, tornadoes formed in the fire, causing equipment to be tossed around. It was so intense that some of the windows of Cal Fire vehicles were blown out.

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