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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Retail workers face many threats of workplace injuries

Owners of retail stores in San Diego must protect the safety of both their customers and their employees. The hazards to which workers in retail stores are exposed do not always receive the necessary consideration. Workplace injuries in this industry often result from mismatched job requirements to employees' physical capabilities. Overexertion from frequent lifting, pushing, pulling and carrying of merchandise could lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

Without mechanical systems to cycle fresh air through the facility, stores without windows to open can build up accumulations of fungus, mold and other health threats. Retail workers also face fire hazards due to inappropriately stored chemicals, the proximity of heat sources and combustibles, damaged electrical cords, and more. All retail employees should be familiar with the locations of fire extinguishers and the proper way to use them.

Will your work-related injury as a telecommuter be questioned?

The playing field of employment in California has undergone drastic changes in recent years. Many employers embrace the rapidly developing gig economy -- a free market system in which organizations create temporary positions for contracted employees to complete short-term engagements, often in their own time and not on the employer's premises. While this might benefit the bottom lines of businesses, the workers receive no benefits, and if they should suffer injuries while engaged in the project, the employer's workers' compensation insurance will not provide coverage.

This is where telecommuting comes in. Your employer can save significantly by limiting the need for office facilities and everything that goes with it by allowing you and other employees to set up offices in your homes. From their homes, employees can do their jobs by utilizing the internet along with the ever-advancing technological and digital business tools. Business owners classify telecommuters as permanent employees who receive typical benefits, including coverage by the state-regulated workers' compensation system.

Workplace injuries caused by violence can happen at any time

Workplace violence is a significant concern for many workers in San Diego. Along with the usual risks of workplace injuries, they have to deal with this added threat. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, every year sees approximately two million workers nationwide who fall victim to workplace violence. The agency warns that, although some are more vulnerable than others, no worker is immune.

Although many such incidents involve homicide and physical assaults, even verbal abuse and threats can constitute workplace violence. Those who are at a higher risk than most include employees in jobs where money changes hands. Also, lone workers and those who work together in smaller groups, and employees on late-night or early-morning shifts face these risks.

Starbucks workers sign petition over employee rights

Starbucks is considering its options to improve worker safety after learning of almost 4,000 signatures on an online petition. Those who signed the petition claim that their employee rights to safe work environments are violated because of exposure to used needles that are discarded in bathrooms. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplaces in San Diego and other cities nationwide must be free from recognized safety hazards.

Reportedly, workers have to remove trash cans from the bathrooms as a part of their duties, and they claim that wearing gloves and using tongs for disposing of the used needles does not provide enough protection. They are asking Starbucks to arrange for the installation of needle-disposal boxes in bathrooms. The opioid epidemic has affected businesses nationwide, and both customers and some employees who are battling addictions discard the needles in tampon disposal boxes, bathrooms and diaper changing facilities.

Employee rights to workers' comp not linked to OSHA citations

Workers nationwide, including San Diego, California, are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages -- and more in some cases -- if they suffered work-related injuries. These employee rights to benefits are based on a no-fault system, meaning that they can file benefits claims even if they were at fault. A recent case in another state demonstrates that even if a judge throws out a fine issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it will not jeopardize the injured worker's rights to compensation.

In that case, an OSHA citation was appealed by a poultry processing plant owner. The fine arose from an incident in which a worker was ordered to clean the area below a conveyor belt while it was working. It appears the worker lost his balance and grabbed onto the conveyor's underside. An unguarded, ingoing nip-point caught his arm and caused a compound fracture.

Hate violence in the workplace and mental injuries

As part of the LGBTQ community here in California, you may believe that you no longer face the discrimination, harassment and violence of the past. Perhaps you feel you bypassed that sort of environment due to all of the progress made in recent years.

Then, you started a new job. Everything may have been okay in the beginning, but as time went on, you began to notice a change in your co-workers, and perhaps even your supervisors and managers. You may have even experienced actual violence or the threat of it.

23-year-old construction worker suffers fatal workplace injuries

The California construction industry poses numerous hazards to workers in San Diego and other counties. Regardless of whether the project is a skyscraper or a residential building, there will always be significant chances for workplace injuries to occur. Although the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes safety guidelines and regulations to prevent on-the-job accidents, non-compliance is rampant.

Unfortunately, many construction site accidents are fatal. Authorities reported one such a tragedy on a recent Monday. Emergency workers were called to a construction site at a residence shortly before noon. The fire department responded, and paramedics arrived at the building site to find a 23-year-old worker who had fallen from the building's roof.

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.

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