Prompt treatment of heat stress symptoms can prevent it from developing into a life-threatening condition. Every year, thousands of California workers file workers' compensation claims for preventable work-related health issues. It is crucial for workers in all industries to learn how to recognize the telltale signs of heat illness in themselves and their co-workers.
Safety authorities say many workplace accidents nationwide, including California, happen as the result of unsafe practices rather than hazardous work environments. Fortunately, the state-regulated workers' compensation program is a no-fault system that pays benefits regardless of who was at fault. So even if a worker makes a mistake that causes an injury, he or she will likely still be eligible for insurance benefits.
As California palm trees grow, the older fronds are typically removed when they turn brown. This is a dangerous task, and many palm tree trimmers have suffered severe injuries while working at heights often exceeding 25 feet. When the dead fronds are cut or pulled off, other fronds could collapse onto the worker. The excessive weight of those fronds could trap the worker and cause suffocation.
Outdoor workers in California are often exposed to insects of various kinds, and some may not be aware of the health risks insect stings pose. Even workers who experienced no adverse effects for years could develop allergies to certain types of insect venom and might need to seek financial assistance through the California workers' compensation program. Although mosquitoes are often regarded as the most prevalent insect sting threat, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology says honeybees, wasps, hornets, fire ants and yellow jackets also pose significant risks.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says recent incidents prompted a reminder to employers nationwide, including California, about the hazards posed by carbon monoxide exposure. The agency says all employees, including general laborers, construction workers and others, face the risk of being overcome by this deadly gas -- often called the silent killer. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is odorless and colorless, and it can be undetected until it is too late to escape.
Not all California companies prioritize employee safety. Sadly, there are those business owners who believe that carrying workers' compensation insurance is enough, and spending money on creating safe work environments is unnecessary. The reality is that every benefits claim that is filed by an injured worker will increase the company's insurance premiums.
With the rapid expansion in the marijuana industry, safety authorities have to establish safety standards to govern the cultivation and processing facilities. In the meantime, employers must comply with the general standards as prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Noncompliance by an employer led to citations issued by the safety agency after a June 2018 incident in which a worker suffered serious workplace injuries.
For workers in the manufacturing industry of California, having robotic co-workers is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Robots are used in many industrial facilities, and safety authorities have to establish new standards as technology advances and new safety hazards become evident. Some of the significant safety concerns when it comes to advanced automation are proper guarding and barriers.
Working as a "troubleman" for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company could be hazardous, as proved by an employee who was recently rushed to the hospital for treatment of burn injuries. Although the California workers' compensation benefits will likely cover his medical expenses, burn injuries sometimes leave permanent scars. A PG&E spokesperson says the term "troubleman" is used for workers who serve as first responders to reports of electrical problems.
On Oct. 31, a construction accident on the campus of the Glendale Community College in Los Angeles County caused a dangerous gas leak that required the evacuation of the entire campus and the suspension of classes. Just more than two weeks later, on Nov. 15, another incident sent one of two construction workers who was trapped in a collapsed trench to the hospital. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has initiated a full investigation, part of which will involve the construction company's compliance with safety regulations.