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Encino California Workers' Compensation Blog

Sites must take precautions to prevent TBI from falling objects

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most common injuries construction workers receive. It’s one of the main reasons why sites require employees to wear hard hats -- to provide protection in case something goes wrong.

While many people associate a worker falling down or getting hit by debris as the most common forms of head injuries in the construction industry, there have been many instances where injury has been caused by someone misplacing their tools. Construction workers that frequently operate in high areas need a reminder of how crucial it is to take measures in preventing these types of accidents.

Measles poses significant threat to health care workers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 1,000 cases of measles have been confirmed in 28 states, including California. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the nature of the work done by health care workers puts them at significant risk of infection. Child care workers and those who work in laboratories are also at a high risk of exposure.

Health care workers are frequently exposed to airborne particles and droplets from throats, noses and mouths of people who are infected by measles. Any direct contact with saliva or respiratory secretions of infected individuals or even contaminated surfaces poses risks. Although measles is a known childhood disease, people of all ages can be infected.

Heat exposure puts California construction workers at risk

Weather forecasters are predicting California temperatures exceeding 90 degrees for the next few weeks. This leaves many outdoor workers at risk of suffering heat-related illnesses. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has urged employers to comply with heat illness prevention standards. Employers must protect construction workers and other employees who work outdoors from known hazards, one of which is heat exposure.

The safety standards require employers to establish written heat prevention plans and provide training to supervisors and workers that will enable them to recognize signs of heat exhaustion and know what action to take. Employees should also learn to look out for each other because if affected workers are not treated promptly, heat illness can cause death. Everyone must know the procedures for emergencies.

Workplace hazards: Forklifts pose carbon monoxide poisoning risks

Federal and state occupational safety and health agencies use one day in June each year to remind employers and workers of the dangers of working on and around forklifts. Carbon monoxide is one of the deadliest workplace hazards because the presence of this toxic gas often goes undetected. On the National Forklift Safety Day, employers nationwide, including California, are urged to refresh safety training to prevent complacency among workers and supervisors.

Although all vehicles and equipment that are powered by combustion emit colorless and odorless toxic carbon monoxide, the most significant risk is posed by forklifts or other gas-powered equipment. The danger is exacerbated if the equipment is operated indoors or in semi-enclosed areas. The day of focusing on CO hazards is held to remind forklift operators and others working in the same spaces of the red flags that will indicate the presence of this silent killer.

Can a trench safety stand down protect construction workers?

Safety authorities use one week in June each year to remind employers and employees in the construction industry about the potentially deadly hazards of working in trenches. Even after years of holding the National Trench Safety Stand Down, cave-ins continue to occur. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 75% of the trench-related accidents that claim the lives of construction workers involve wall collapses, which are preventable by compliance with federal and California safety standards.

BLS further reports that the next two primary causes are electrocutions and struck-by hazards, which are also preventable. Safety authorities aim to get employers to take time during the stand down to focus on excavation safety by providing refresher training and reinforcing the importance of sloping, shoring and trench boxing to secure the walls. Also, they will reaffirm the importance of having utilities clearly marked to avoid unexpected strikes and the safe handling of equipment inside the excavation.

Will workers' compensation cover lead poisoning?

Each year, a significant number of California workers have been found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Although workers' compensation covers their medical expenses, the workers carry lead dust home and put the health of their families at risk. If a recently proposed bill is passed, The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will have the right to enforce safety regulations in workplaces and issue citations and fines for violations.

The health effects of exposure to this highly toxic metal can be severe and permanent, and those who work in areas where lead is processed is at risk -- along with their families. The toxic effects can cause cognitive difficulties, high blood pressure and irreversible damage to the kidneys and nervous system. Pregnant women who have been exposed to lead risk miscarriages or to give premature birth. High levels of lead in the blood can even cause death.

Summer construction hazards: The right clothing is crucial

Summer is the busiest and the most dangerous time of the year for construction workers in California. Many contractors push their crews to the limits under the hot temperatures. Negligent drivers put workers at risk. It’s the prime time of the year to review safety precautions, but some employers push it to the side just to get a head start on projects.

You’ll likely see different clothing styles outside of the usual protective gear on the sites. Since it’s the hottest time of the year, it’s understandable why many might prefer to wear lighter or short-sleeved shirts during this season. However, there are challenges that don’t involve heat. Be aware of them to avoid injuries on site.

Violence at work threatens psychiatric health care workers

A study regarding the frequency of assaults on the nursing staff at John George Psychiatric Hospital in California has raised concern among authorities and personnel. The union that represents health care workers at the facility is renewing the call for safer work environments following publication of the new data released by the public hospital authority that handles the management of the facility. The study covered incidents involving assaults on staff members from May 2018 through the end of April 2019.

Most of the incidents cited involved patients attacking workers. Along with being punched, kicked and slapped, health care workers are also spat on, scratched, bitten and pulled by the hair. Although the records contain no identifying names, the times that assaults happened and the section of the hospitals at which each incident occurred were studied, along with whether a co-worker or a patient was the aggressor and the level of physical force that was used.

Workers' compensation: Young workers are not invincible

Thousands of teenagers in California are likely looking forward to their summer jobs. Employers who take on young workers will probably be aware that many of them enter the workforce feeling invincible. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires business owners to provide adequate safety training and information about workers' compensation eligibility.

Regardless of whether young workers start their jobs this summer in temporary or permanent positions, they will be entitled to worker's compensation benefits if they should suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. This applies even for those who are younger than 18 years, and they need not be legal U.S. residents to receive benefits. It is a no-fault system that pays benefits regardless of who was at fault.

The hazards cancer drugs pose to pregnant health care workers

Safety authorities expressed concern about the results of a study done by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Analyzed data shows that a significant percentage of pregnant health care workers fail to protect themselves and their unborn babies against the hazards posed by powerful cancer drugs. Over 40,000 nurses in North America, including California, participated in the research.

Reportedly, almost 40% of the pregnant nurses who participated do not wear protective gowns when they administer antineoplastic drugs used for chemotherapy. A significant number also admitted to working with these dangerous drugs without wearing protective gloves. Safety authorities recommend that all health care workers should wear prescribed protective gowns and gloves as personal protective equipment.

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