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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Avoiding injury in your warehouse job

Warehouse work can be exhausting. You may feel strain in your back, arms and legs at the end of a day, but this is normal for a job that requires physical effort. However, even that discomfort can be worth it if the paycheck is good and you get along well with your co-workers.

What is not acceptable is when carelessness or recklessness results in injuries that prevent you from working. You are well aware that a warehouse is a place of many potential dangers. Even though you and your co-workers may sometimes have a good time getting the work done, there are precautions you must take to avoid the most common injuries.

Workplace injuries follow exposure cadmium at aerospace facility

On a Monday evening earlier this month, hazmat crews, firefighters and paramedics rushed to the premises of a California manufacturer of aerospace products after receiving calls about workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. An investigation was immediately launched to determine which chemical caused the workplace injuries. Reportedly, 40 people were evacuated after being affected by the irritant, which was not immediately identified, and eight of them were hospitalized.

Two days later, an inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported that cadmium was identified as the irritant that overwhelmed the workers. He said cadmium is used in the aerospace industry to make rubber. However, the common use of cadmium is in rechargeable batteries and electroplating.

Employee rights when it comes to workers' compensation benefits

Members of the California workforce know that a workplace accident can happen at any time. For this reason, it is crucial for them to understand their employee rights when it comes to workers' compensation benefits. To avoid delays in benefits payments, it is essential to get medical attention immediately, and even go to the hospital if necessary. The next step is to inform the employer of the injury as soon as possible.

An injured worker might be smart to document the details of the injury, the circumstances that led to it and even witness statements to avoid instances of an employer challenging or denying a claim. Furthermore, he or she must keep notes of visits to doctors or therapists, doctor and hospital bills, and other expenses. Copies will have to accompany the benefits claim.

California firefighter succumbs to workplace injuries

Every year, firefighters in California put their lives on the line to protect the property and lives of others. Sadly, some of these brave workers suffer fatal workplace injuries. The U.S. Fire Administration says more than 50 firefighters have lost their lives so far this year.

Earlier this month, a pilot in an airplane spotted an overturned bulldozer and advised authorities. Rescue workers rushed to the scene where they discovered that the massive machine had rolled over, pinning the operator and crushing him to death. He was a 36-year-old firefighter who was on duty when the accident happened. The man was working with a CAL FIRE unit, fighting a fire in the Sierra National Forest.

Hair stylists face multiple occupational hazards

Occupational injuries can happen in any work environment in California, and just because a hairdressing salon seems a glamorous, exciting and fun place to work does not mean stylists face no risks. In fact, salons pose multiple hazards that can cause long-term health problems. If you spend most of your workdays on your feet in a salon, you might have realized how fragile your body is.

Along with the musculoskeletal strain you put on your body, there are several other health risks present in your work environment. Being aware of them might provide some protection from harm.

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