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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Involving workers in safety planning can limit workplace injuries

San Diego business owners will no doubt be aware that happy and healthy employees benefit the bottom line. Not only do they improve production, but insurance premiums can be kept to a minimum by preventing workplace injuries. Regardless of the industry, injuries can happen in any workplace, and set protocols to identify potential problems may be the place to start. These could include wet spots caused by spills or leaks, and random objects or debris on walkways. Another potential risk in all industries is heavy objects that can cause back problems for those who have to lift and carry them.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides signage that can be placed to indicate hazardous areas. Signage can include mounted warnings and floor markings to indicate potential risks, such as those present in loading docks. Involving employees in developing and maintaining plans to avoid injuries can benefit all. A logical list of steps to take to prevent injuries can form part of this plan.

California court aims to protect employee rights for gig workers

In recent years, the gig economy has expanded across several industries as technology changes the way people work. Gig economy employers have relied heavily on the use of independent contractors to make their services available at affordable prices. However, some of the workers say they are being misclassified and are being denied their employee rights. A recent California Supreme Court ruling sided with the workers, saying that they should be offered the same benefits as employees using something called the ABC test standard. 

The ABC test is a three-part measure of whether a worker should be considered an employee or an independent contractor. If a worker is to be considered an independent contractor, he or she must be able to provide the service free from the company's control, the service the person provides must be outside the company's core business and the contractor must be an independent professional that also offers similar services to other businesses. In the gig economy, for example, an Uber driver that has no previous driving experience and who does not also work for other driving companies is unlikely to be considered a contractor. 

Depression: Are workplace circumstances getting you down?

Have you suffered an on-the-job injury that jeopardizes your ability to earn enough to take proper care of your family? Maybe you witnessed a co-worker die after suffering a traumatic workplace injury. Many circumstances at work could lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although work-related stress and depression are compensable under the California workers' compensation insurance system, many employers resist authorizing such claims, which could even exacerbate your depression. As with any other injury, as long as a workplace accident or conditions at work caused it, you can likely claim benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

California automaker allegedly underreported workplace injuries

Groundbreaking automaker Tesla may soon be in hot water with government agencies for allegedly failing to report incidents where workers were injured. A new report alleged that several serious workplace injuries were not reported to the proper authorities. Tesla denies the claims and said in a press release that the report is an attempt to sabotage the California automaker. 

Tesla has had to postpone the launch of his latest car yet again. He said in an interview that the delay is because of excessive automation, and that the work performed by humans in underrated. Unfortunately, it has also been reported that the injuries suffered by employees of Tesla, such as slicings, crushings and burns were not reported to officials. 

Saving doesn't have to limit disability benefits

A person who was hurt at work or has become disabled may find that his or her income has been reduced. Programs exist that provide disability benefits to individuals who were injured at work and also for those who become disabled through other means. These programs usually limit the amount of assets that a person may hold without jeopardizing benefit payouts. Luckily, in California and other states, savings programs exist that allow individuals to save money without endangering the income they depend on. 

Individuals who were disabled early in life are eligible for ABLE savings accounts that allow them or another person to deposit up to $15,000 per year into an account that is used for disability-related needs. The Social Security Administration has more information about this program. Another type of account, called the Individual Development Account, allows a person to save money while earning a matched amount. The funds in an IDA are used to start a business or train for a job. 

California sexual harassment rules support employee rights

Sexual harassment has no place in the work environment. In California, one of the basic employee rights is the right to be free from harassment and discrimination. There are current laws in place against the practice that require training, but a recent proposed state bill aims to strengthen the policy. 

Under current state law, employers with 50 or more employees must require supervisors to undergo at least two hours of sexual harassment training. In light of the recent publicity surrounding the "Me Too" movement, one state senator aims to expand the bill and require all workers of companies with five or more employees to undergo the same amount of training with updates every two years. She believes that the changed law will contribute to a culture shift where sexual harassment will be less of an issue. 

Do you risk your life while fighting fires?

Being a firefighter in California is a selfless job that typically takes a heavy toll from those who aim to save lives — regardless of the harm they face. If this is your profession, you will likely know the risks you face whenever you are on duty. Along with extinguishing fires, you have to pull people from vehicles in fiery accidents, from burning buildings and even from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Your rescue work does not require the presence of a fire. Firefighters are often the first responders in events such as construction accidents, trench collapses and other emergencies that might expose you to hazardous atmospheres in the presence of toxic fumes and other dangers.

Fatal workplace injuries kill California waste truck driver

Workers in the waste removal industry in face life-threatening risks on a daily basis. The equipment with which they work poses serious safety hazards and is often the cause of workplace injuries. Employers in California must provide adequate safety training to prepare workers for potential hazards and teach them how to stay safe.

Sadly, accidents that claim lives sometimes happen -- even in companies with excellent employee safety records. One such an incident caused the death of a 45-year-old waste truck driver on a recent Friday morning. The business owner says this is the first occupational fatality in the 27-year existence of the company.

Working while receiving disability benefits

In the era of the side hustle, some people consider working even while they already receive a check, in order to supplement their income. For those receiving disability benefits, many wonder if their checks will be affected if they choose to work while receiving them. In California, there are federal guidelines that determine how Social Security Disability benefits could possibly be affected should a person also draw an income from a job. 

The main reason that individuals would receive disability benefits is not because they are disabled, but that they are disabled and cannot work. The payments are designed to replace income from employment. That being said, it is possible to earn income while at the same time receiving government payments. 

Workplace injuries a fact of life for California linemen

Sometimes known as "the forgotten first responders", the individuals who work on power lines can face dangers on the job. Workplace injuries are a reality for this industry, and can come with grave consequences. Recently, one man in California lost his life due to an accident while servicing the power lines in the state. 

Originally hailing from a neighboring state, the man had recently relocated to California to pursue his passion of working on the power lines. In late Jan. 2018, the man was injured on the job while working on the lines. He was immediately taken to the hospital, but sadly, the man died from his injuries. 

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