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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Firefighter from another state seriously burned in California

Firefighters come from all over to help during the wildfire season across California. Some of them suffer workplace injuries here. One out-of-state firefighter suffered severe burns to his stomach and legs while fighting fires in October. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has launched an investigation into the incident.

The victim is a 29-year-old rookie who was a member of a crew of 20 firefighters from another state. Reportedly, the incident occurred while the man was using his chain saw to make cuts into wood as part of a tactic to protect the roots of the trees from burning. As he stepped away to clear away rocks from the surrounding area, his supervisor asked him to check the fuel level of the chainsaw.

Employee rights to be protected from Type 2 workplace violence

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says workers in various industries face work-related violence risks. Although employers in San Diego and elsewhere are responsible for protecting employee rights to safe work environments, a significant number of Type 2 violence incidents occur nationwide. Statistics show that 500 workers died from workplace violence in 2016, and 16,890 more suffered injuries in such events. Type 2 violence occurs when a customer or another individual turns violent against employees of a business with which the perpetrator has a legitimate relationship.

BLS classifies Type 2 violence into four categories, one of which is criminal intent. These are crimes, that include shoplifting, trespassing, robbery and terrorism by someone with no relationship with the business or its employees. The next type involves violent acts by clients or customers, and the third type is violence perpetrated by a former or current employee. In the last type, the perpetrator is someone with a personal relationship with an employee of the business.

Social media can damage your workers' comp claim

Social media may be the primary way you keep in touch with family and friends, especially if you are not originally from California. Having a Facebook, Twitter or other platform to post pictures and update your status is a convenient way to keep your family connected. You may also enjoy seeing the same posts from your loved ones.

However, if you are suffering from a workplace injury and have filed a claim for workers' compensation, you should be extremely cautious of what you post. Your boss and the company's workers' comp insurer will likely investigate your claim, and yes, that means monitoring your social media accounts.

Workplace injuries claim life of construction worker

All construction sites pose safety hazards, regardless of how careful the project is planned. Some of the most frequently reported workplace injuries in this industry are fall-related. Slips or trips can cause falls from elevated construction areas, and in many cases, workers are struck by objects that cause them to fall. For that reason, employers must provide workers with fall arrest harnesses, which might prevent tragedies such as the recent one in San Diego.

Shortly after school district officials celebrated the imminent hoisting of the highest beam of an Event Center under construction at a high school in San Diego, a worker was struck by a beam that knocked him off the 30-foot elevated platform. The 30-year-old worker fell to the ground, and he was rushed to an area hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries. Reportedly, a second worker was hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Fatal workplace injuries kill juvenile worker

When it comes to child labor, the minimum age at which children may be employed under federal and California laws is set at 14 years. Employers in San Diego and other cities nationwide must ensure that work environments are free of known hazards, and they must provide adequate safety training to teach young workers how to mitigate risks that could cause workplace injuries. Such training must be provided in a language that the juvenile workers understand.

Child labor laws also control the types of jobs that workers who are younger than 18 years are allowed to undertake. Some of the restrictions involve certain types of equipment that they may only operate or use if they are older than 18. An employer in another state recently agreed to more than $58,000 in fines after the death of a 15-year-old worker.

Workplace injuries: Office workers risk vision damage

Administrative and office workers in San Diego are not as safe as many would believe. Along with slip-and-fall, trip-and-fall, and musculoskeletal disorder risks, working on a keyboard all day can cause repetitive stress workplace injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Then there is the danger of computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain that typically affects people who use computers, tablets, smartphones and e-readers for prolonged periods.

According to the American Optometric Association, the average screen time for many workers is seven hours per day. Computer vision syndrome can lead to eyestrain, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches and even shoulder and neck pain. In some cases, the problems disappear if the cause is removed, but blurred vision might continue even after computer times are limited.

Did your boss fire you for no reason? You can fight back

Losing your job is a serious threat to your well-being and the stability of your California family. It can be devastating to learn from your employer that he or she is firing you, especially when there is no reason for this course of action. If you suspect that your termination is based on things like retaliation or discrimination, you can fight back. 

Wrongfully terminating an employee is not only wrong, but it's also illegal. If you believe that you are a victim of this, you have the right to fight back. It may be appropriate for you to pursue legal action against your employer, but you do not have to go through this process alone. It is in your interests to seek the help of an attorney who can assist you in this process, from identifying whether you have a valid claim to guiding you through this entire legal process.

Why are part-time workers more vulnerable to workplace injuries?

The gig economy is growing in San Diego and throughout California. Organizations contract independent workers for temporary positions and short-term engagements. The prevalence of this free market system and analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that these independent workers are more vulnerable when it comes to workplace injuries. The at-risk group includes day laborers, on-call employees, independent contractors and workers hired through agencies.

A recent BLS report indicates significantly higher rates of injuries and fatalities in gig workers result from slips, trips and falls, contact with equipment or objects, and exposure to harmful environments or substances. The analysis shows that most fatalities occurred among tractor-trailer operators, construction supervisors, extraction workers and construction laborers. It was noted that the changing of their employment situations and changing safety and health challenges put these workers at higher risks.

Workplace injuries: Pool service employee succumbs to heatstroke

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has strict regulations in place when it comes to heat exposure. Employers in San Diego and across the state must protect workers from suffering heat-related illnesses. As with any other fatal workplace injuries, heatstroke deaths must be reported to the agency within a limited time. Cal/OSHA recently released information about such a fatality that was only reported 12 days later.

The coroner confirmed that a 38-year-old employee of a pool service company died after suffering heatstroke on a day in June. Investigators determined that there was a heat advisory effective on June 5. Temperatures reached 101 degrees on that day. Reportedly the worker was found in his personal vehicle at the end of his shift. He was transported to the hospital, where he passed away the next day.

Workplace injuries happen despite safety precautions

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health provides regulations and guidelines to protect construction workers. Although the agency maintains that most workplace injuries are preventable, accidents happen -- often with devastating consequences. One such a tragedy on a San Diego construction site recently claimed the life of one worker and caused serious injuries to four more.

Reportedly, the incident occurred in La Jolla on a University of California San Diego project. Under the circumstances to be determined by Cal/OSHA investigators, the five workers were struck by a collapsing rebar wall frame. According to the agency, this is the first safety investigation at this site since the start of the project in June 2018.

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