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Chula Vista California Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Does workers' compensation cover heat-related illnesses?

Following the recent death of a postal worker in California, a health official reminded employees to provide frequent breaks for their employers to allow them to cool down when they work in soaring temperatures. Although it is not confirmed yet, authorities suspect the postal worker's death was heat-related. She died on a day when temperatures reached 117 degrees. Many workers' compensation claims are filed each summer by employees whose bosses do not prioritize their safety.

The health official urges workers to watch each other for telltale signs of heat exhaustion. He says profuse sweating drains the body of fluids, which must be replaced by regular drinks of fresh, cold water. Workers who do not need to go to the toilet at least once every four hours and those who stop sweating might be dehydrated. When that happens, the body loses its ability to cool itself down, and internal temperatures will continue to rise. It's important to get the individual to a cool, shady area and cooled down quickly; otherwise, it could be fatal.

Does workers' compensation cover off-site lunch-break injuries?

Workplace injuries occur every day -- on construction sites, in offices, factories and on movie sets. Suffering an on-the-job injury that prevents the immediate return to work can cause havoc in anyone's budget. This is when most California workers rely on the workers' compensation system to provide financial assistance.

Workers' compensation benefits are available for anyone suffering a work-related injury. In some cases, eligibility for benefits is questioned. One example is whether benefits can be claimed for an injury that occurred while an employee was on a paid lunch break. If this happened while the worker was away from the workplace, he or she would generally not be covered.

Is your building sick?

If you dread going to work in California, it may not be because your work stresses you out and you hate your job. If your eyes start watering and/or you begin coughing or sneezing uncontrollably or your muscles start aching every time you hit the front door, you may work in a sick building

Believe it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that some buildings actually are or can become sick. While your employer by law must provide you with a safe and healthy workplace, many buildings suffer from sickness due to one or more of the following problems:

  • Poor ventilation
  • Biological contamination
  • Indoor chemical contamination
  • Outdoor chemical contamination

Workers' compensation claim might follow window washer's death

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the San Diego Police have launched investigations into the death of a window washer. A workers' compensation claim for death benefits will likely follow this tragedy. According to authorities, the incident occurred on a recent Tuesday morning at a condominium complex in downtown San Diego.

Paramedics rushed to the scene after a witness called 911. Reportedly, the 61-year-old man's daughter said he had been a window washer for more than 40 years. The reason for the fall is yet to be determined by investigators, but it is believed that he fell at least five stories from where he was cleaning the condominium windows.

Will workers' compensation cover rhabdo in firefighters?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently warned firefighters in California and other states of the risk of developing a dangerous condition that is called rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo. It is caused by electrolytes and proteins that are released into the blood when damaged muscle tissues, caused by overexertion, are broken down by the process of rhabdo. Early diagnosis of rhabdo can set the ball rolling to obtain workers' compensation benefits.

Firefighters exert themselves by carrying heavy loads containing their turnout gear, tools and air packs while climbing stairs and ladders and navigating rugged terrain and rescuing victims. Exposure to excessive heat and prolonged exertion during overhaul tasks exacerbate the risks. Those who are also using dietary supplements, allergy medication, antibiotics or any other prescribed medications are even more vulnerable.

Workers' compensation: Arc flash burn victim sues Tesla

A 37-year-old trainee electrician in California has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the automaker Tesla. This claim arose from severe burn injuries the man suffered in an arc flash incident in June 2017. Although he was in the employ of a contractor on the Tesla site and eligible for workers' compensation benefits through his employer, he alleges egregious negligence by Tesla because the car manufacturer refused to cut the electricity to the equipment on which the man had to work. He asserts Tesla wanted to avoid slowing down the production by isolating power.

According to court documents, the plaintiff became engulfed in flames as the arc flash threw him between 15 and 20 feet across the floor. He says he remained in the hospital for two months, during which time, skin from is back and thighs were grafted onto his neck, chest and arms. He lost one finger, and he now lives with chronic pain and nerve pains akin to being poked by thousands of needles. He further claims he was unable to use his hands for the first six months after the accident, and holding a cup still requires both hands.

Workers' compensation: Trench collapse claims life of 1 worker

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has opened an investigation into the recent death of a construction worker in Orange County. This incident involved a collapsed trench, which is one type of construction accident that leads to thousands of workers' compensation claims for benefits every year. The tragedy is that many workers lose their lives in these incidents that are entirely preventable.

Cal/OSHA prescribes strict safety regulations for trenches, one of which is never to allow heavy equipment to operate near excavations. A spokesperson for Orange County Fire Authority said backhoes were used for digging in the vicinity when the trench walls collapsed. There was no mention of the presence of a trench box or other measures to prevent a cave-in.

6 office hazards that may surprise you

When you think about workplace hazards, construction workers in hard hats or soot-covered firefighters might be the first images that come to mind. You might not even consider the office you work in as being full of hidden dangers. However, you and other California office workers face unique hazards at your job every day, which you may not be aware of.

According to MSN, the following hazards are common in offices across the country and may threaten your health and safety:

  • Slipping and tripping hazards caused by electrical cords, furniture and clutter in walkways or workspaces
  • Headaches, eye strain, dry eyes and blurred vision from looking at computer screens for extended periods
  • Chronic stress from background noise and lack of privacy
  • Asthma and breathing problems from enclosed, energy-efficient office spaces and allergens in the workplace
  • Emotional trauma from workplace bullying, harassment and abusive behavior
  • Contagious viruses that lurk on the office coffeepot, drinking fountains and office equipment
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