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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Janitors face more than the usual work injury hazards

If you are a commercial building cleaner or janitor in San Diego, you are at a higher risk of suffering work-related injuries than workers in most other industries. Not only must you deal with general workplace hazards, but also those inherent in the facility for which you are responsible. Even though you do a lot of your work out of the public eye, you play a significant role in maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of commercial buildings.

Your job makes you indirectly responsible for the heath of many individuals, even though they might hardly ever have contact with you. Furthermore, if you work in a remote area or at odd hours, you could become a victim of crime or assault.

Subcontractor suffers fatal workplace injuries at refinery

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the death of a subcontractor who was working at the Torrance Refinery. Reportedly, the incident occurred on a recent Thursday afternoon in North Torrance on a tank farm where the worker was repairing a tank. An incident report stated that the worker was in his 40s.

Reportedly, this man was involved in a struck-by accident, which is one of the most frequent causes of occupational fatalities in San Diego and across the state. The report indicates that the worker was inside the tank when he was struck by a heavy object. The object that fell on him was not named, but it happened while the worker was jacking the supporting leg of a floating roof.

Beware: The sun can cause serious workplace injuries and illness

At this time every year, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health focuses on the dangers posed by the sun by reminding employers in San Diego and across the state of their responsibilities to protect employees from known hazards. The effects of heat illness can lead to workplace injuries. Employers must provide cool, shaded areas where workers can take frequent cool-down breaks when temperatures reach 80 degrees.

However, if heat exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit, mandatory 10-minute breaks should be taken at two-hour intervals. Fresh water must be provided at no charge to workers. Employees must be encouraged not to wait until they feel thirsty but to drink at least one quart of cool water per hour throughout their shifts. Safety training is crucial, and workers must learn how to recognize the early warning signs of heat illness in themselves and co-workers.

Disability benefits will help if you cannot return to work

Facing mounting medical bills in the aftermath of a workplace injury is enough to cause anxiety for any victim. It is a situation that can be exacerbated if the injury left the worker unable to return to work. Workers in San Diego and across California might find comfort in knowing that they will likely be eligible for disability benefits through the state-operated workers' compensation insurance system.

The program typically pays the injury-related medical bills for hospital stays, doctor visits, medicines, physical therapy, laboratory tests, and X-rays. These benefits will also cover necessary medical equipment and reasonable travel costs for treatment. If the worker lost wages while he or she recovered from the injury, temporary disability benefits would be paid for a predetermined period.

Do you suffer discrimination because you identify as transgender?

Does the gender with which you identify differ from your assigned sex when you were born? Then you are likely one of many people in California who are victims of LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. This could also be the case if you choose to express your behavior and appearance different from your sex at birth.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects both gender identification and expression. No one in your workplace may discriminate against you -- even if someone perceives you as gender nonconforming or transgender.

Collapsing trench walls can cause fatal workplace injuries

Almost every construction site in San Diego and across California involves excavation of some kind. If the earth's surface is cut into, creating an indentation or hole in which the width is narrower than its length qualifies as a trench. Strict safety standards are in place to prevent workplace injuries caused by collapsed trench walls. When such a catastrophe happens, workers can be buried under 3,000 pounds of soil, or more, in the blink of an eye.

The National Trench Safety Stand Down from June 17 to 21 aims to get employers to remind workers of the hazards posed by excavations, and the importance of compliance with safety regulations. If employees understand the dangers and the role of the designated "competent person," the battle against losing lives in trenches might be halfway won. The specified competent person must inspect the excavation at the start of every workday and also after changes in weather and soil conditions.

Loading dock safety crucial to prevent workplace injuries

Loading docks are areas that could be particularly hazardous in distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing plants and fulfillment centers in San Diego and other California cities. With the primary activities in these facilities focused on receiving goods and then distributing the merchandise, loading docks are typically hubs of activity. For this reason, establishing safety protocols is crucial for the prevention of workplace injuries.

Along with semitrailers and stacks of stock to be loaded or unloaded, forklifts and workers on foot rush about in a fast-paced manner to get the grueling tasks done as quick as possible. Some of the most significant risks involve forklifts, and it is no wonder that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety standards. One of them mandates that only certified, trained drivers should operate forklifts and other motorized industrial trucks.

Trench-related workplace injuries can be prevented

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics cause concern among safety authorities about the prevalence of trench collapses that cause about 25 fatalities nationwide each year, including San Diego. Reportedly, 75% of trench-related deaths are caused by cave-ins, while electrocutions and struck-by incidents cause the balance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration use emphasis campaigns each year to underscore the hazards trench workers face, and also to increase enforcement of safety standards to prevent workplace injuries.

Although these campaigns have proved to be successful in reducing the number of trench collapses over the years, lives are still lost due to noncompliance with safety regulations. The depth of any trench determines whether a designated competent person or an engineer must determine the method required to secure trench walls. Shoring, sloping or benching are the different methods used to mitigate cave-ins.

Heavy equipment hazards on job sites can be mitigated

If you are an operator of any of the massive machines that work on construction sites in California, the safety of you and your coworkers will be at risk. On many job sites, employers prioritize profits instead of employee safety. When this is the case, you might be wise to learn about the hazards and how to mitigate them.

Even if you have done this type of work for many years without adverse incidents, it is crucial not to become complacent. Operating heavy equipment is dangerous, even if machines function as they should. The endless list of potential hazards requires alertness at all times and safety must remain your priority.

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