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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace injuries: Wind turbine installation and maintenance

Building and servicing wind turbines in San Diego County is a dangerous job. The different construction stages pose different hazards and require appropriate safety precautions to prevent workplace injuries. Employers must comply with the relevant safety regulations for construction and maintenance.

During the installation process, the safety standards the Occupational Safety and health Administration prescribes for construction projects must be followed. Regulations include providing workers with personal fall protection equipment or safety nets and guardrails. Along with this, workers must receive adequate practical training in preventing falls, and also techniques for arresting falls. Employers must also enforce the use of personal protective equipment and focus on preventing complacency.

Workplace injuries common in food processing plants

Workers in food processing facilities in San Diego face a variety of hazards. Employers must protect them from suffering workplace injuries by establishing safety programs, engineering controls for all equipment, and emergency response programs. Also, appropriate personal protective equipment must be available for all employees, and safety programs must include housekeeping to prevent slip-and-fall accidents, ergonomics programs and adequate machine guarding.

The dangers faced by these workers include excessive noise levels, and the repetitive motions many jobs in this industry require can cause musculoskeletal disorders. Slippery conditions due to frequent wash downs of equipment pose fall hazards, and the constant dampness can cause hazardous molds to form. Workers are also exposed to chemicals like sanitizers, disinfectants, soaps and detergents, not to mention the deadly ammonia that is used as a refrigerant in food processing plants.

Reentering the workplace after a work accident

An accident in your California workplace can leave you with serious injuries and financial losses that you cannot manage on your own. With the support of workers' compensation benefits, you may be able to recover a portion of your lost wages and cover your medical bills, but this may not be all you need. You might also need help when it is time to get back to work.

Through your employer's workers' compensation insurance, you may be able to secure vocational rehabilitation benefits. This means there may be support available to you that will help you transition back into the workplace with ease. These benefits are particularly useful for individuals who may not be able to return to the same job he or she had before their accident.

Employee rights: Accept or reject job offer while recovering?

Victims of on-the-job injuries in San Diego might not understand how California workers' compensation benefits work if their employers offer them jobs while they are recovering. A doctor might order restricted duties, and if an employer makes such an offer, it must be for a job that meets the restrictions set out in a doctor's report. If that is the case, employee rights allow the worker to accept or reject the offer within a predetermined time limit.

The employer can offer a worker his or her old job, at the same wage level as before the accident, and with the same benefits as enjoyed at the time of the injury. Furthermore, such a job must be located within an acceptable commuting distance from the worker's residence. However, if the nature of the injuries prevents a worker from doing the same job as before, the employer has other options.

Workplace injuries: Cumulative PTSD common for police officers

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that most people associate with soldiers. However, it is one of the most common workplace injuries suffered by police officers nationwide, including in San Diego. While PTSD in soldiers typically follows one brief traumatic event, police officers experience stress every day, taking a heavy toll on them and their loved ones. Their conditions manifest gradually, and it is known as cumulative PTSD.

When single traumatic experiences are suffered, professional help is available to help officers in the aftermath of the event to deal with the trauma. However, hostage situations, fatal accidents, exposure to dangerous drugs during busts and other situations with which police officers have to deal on a daily basis cause trauma and stress that might go unnoticed. Even the victim might not recognize the early symptoms of PTSD, and leaving it untreated could have devastating consequences in which officers can become threats to themselves and others.

Musculoskeletal workplace injuries prevalent in construction

Millions of construction workers nationwide, including in San Diego, put their health and safety on the line every day. Their jobs are physically demanding, and the high number of workplace injuries suffered in this industry each year is not surprising. Safety authorities report that the most common injuries that cause construction workers to miss workdays are musculoskeletal disorders that result from material handling and repetitive motions.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says safety on construction sites is in the interest of all, including human resource managers, safety specialists, contractors, unions, supervisors and construction workers. The agency says MSDs result from workers' bodies being pushed beyond their natural limits. Workers are often required to work in awkward positions while they have to kneel, crouch, grip, lift, twist, stretch and reach over or up to get their jobs done.

Are you qualified to operate that forklift?

Forklifts have become an essential piece of equipment wherever movement of materials takes place in California. So whether you are a forklift operator on a construction site or in any of the many warehouses or fulfillment and distribution centers in and around San Diego, you will face the common hazards that these machines pose. Not all employers give forklift safety the necessary attention.

Forklifts move building materials outdoors, and indoors in warehouses where they move stock products from receiving bays to pallets and shelves, and from there to the loading docks. They can lift or pull loaded pallets, and transport stacked boxes, crates, drums and many other objects. However, these dangerous machines could cause catastrophic injuries or even death.

Disability benefits available for workers affected by asbestos

Workers in the San Diego construction injury face an endless list of hazards. Sometimes hidden dangers exist that could cause occupational injuries or illnesses with long-term or even debilitating consequences. Fortunately, the state-regulated workers' compensation system provides disability benefits if the injuries were work-related.

Two illnesses that construction workers may contract without even realizing they were exposed are asbestosis and mesothelioma. The use of asbestos ceased almost entirely after researchers toward the end of the 1980s discovered the health hazards of exposure. However, renovations or demolitions of older buildings often expose workers to the dangerous asbestos fibers. The primary application of asbestos was for insulation purposes because of the mineral's heat and corrosion resistance.

Typical causes of workplace injuries

Each industry and every work site in California, including in San Diego, pose unique safety risks. However, the National Safety Council says seven safety hazards are responsible for most workplace injuries. Safety inspectors say housekeeping and the failure to clean up spills and clutter or debris cause injuries in all sectors. The lack of control, management and proper storage of chemicals often lead to chemical burns, skin conditions and respiratory products. This applies to facilities where chemicals are used in manufacturing processes, and also where strong chemicals are used for cleaning purposes.

Safety authorities say extension cords are only to provide for temporary power, and as soon as their use becomes a permanent feature, it becomes a safety hazard. Forklifts are used in many industries, and although they pose many dangers, inspectors say that rushing and taking shortcuts due to performance pressure lead to many forklift-related workplace accidents. Lockout/tagout hazards include both the lack of installed devices to prevent accidental energizing of power during maintenance, and the lack of enforcement in facilities that have the necessary LOTO devices in place.

Workplace injuries involving aerial lifts are preventable

Workers in the construction industry in San Diego face an endless list of hazards. Many of the dangers are known and addressed in the safety regulations prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. A significant number of workplace injuries -- some of which are fatal -- involve aerial lifts that come into contact with overhead power cables, tip-overs, falls, and instances in which workers are caught between the lift's guardrail or bucket and another object.

These incidents can be prevented by taking precautionary steps that start with training. Only certified operators must be allowed behind the controls of aerial lifts. Before every shift, the operator must carry out a thorough inspection to ensure all emergency and operating controls are in perfect order. He or she must always be equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment, which must also be inspected to ensure they are free of defects.

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