The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a report last October that shows an alarming rise in fatalities among heavy-duty truckers. While 3.5 deaths occur per 10,000 workers across all professions, 26.8 in every 10,000 truckers die in traffic accidents. That represents a 25 percent increase since 2011. These numbers will likely also reflect in the claims for survivor's benefits that are filed with the workers' compensation program in California and other states.
The flu season typically peaks in February, and it has already claimed several lives in California. Every year, a significant number of flu-related workers' compensation claims are filed. Workers in hospitals and other health care facilities face higher risks of exposure than most employees in other industries. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, and because vaccinations are not guaranteed to be effective, they might have to provide additional protection.
Employees in California might not be aware of the deadly hazards posed by dust accumulation. According to the Chemical Safety Board, data for the period 2006 through 2017 shows that incidents involving combustible dust caused 337 injuries nationwide, and it also led to 66 fatalities and many workers' compensation benefits claims. Oxygen, fuel, ignition, dispersion and confinement are the five elements that combine to cause a dust explosion.
Confined space pose hazards in various industries and compliance with the relevant safety standards as prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is crucial. A significant number of workers' compensation claims every year involve on-the-job injuries suffered in confined spaces, which are not necessarily small spaces. Even large areas that are confined and have limited entry and exit means can classify as confined spaces.
Safety authorities in California were the first to establish regulations to protect workers from outdoor heat. Many workers' compensation claims involve heat stress and other climate-related illnesses or injuries. However, climate change and the prevalence of businesses being run from shipping containers have led to the proposal of new regulations that will also protect indoor workers from heat stress.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.