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Orange County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

OSHA drops huge fines on Dollar Tree as store is criticized

Dollar Tree is a retailer that buys and sells relatively cheap items. This can make it a bargain hunter's paradise, but it can also have unintentional consequences. For example, since the business model of Dollar Tree depends on the store getting many shipments and deliveries every week, then turning those cheap assets into cheap retail sales, the company has to take some financial shortcuts to bolster profitability.

This usually comes in the form of a reduced workforce, where only a couple of employees are on hand to tend to a 7,000 to 10,000 square foot store. These few workers have to help customers, stock shelves, keep the store clean, and deal with deliveries. So say a worker is handling ten big boxes when a bunch of customers come in. Does the worker keep working with the boxes, or does the worker try to help out with the customers?

How Ebola could impact the workers' comp industry

We have talked on this blog many times about the importance of workers' compensation and how it allows an employee who was adversely affected by workplace conditions to pay for crucial things such as medical bills and general costs associated with life. However, when most people think about workers' compensation, they think about a terrible workplace accident that leaves an employee injured or hurt for an extended period.

While this is true in many cases, there are also plenty of cases where a workplace accident can make people sick, or a person's work puts him or her in a situation where they might get sick. This is the other important function of workers' comp: it isn't just for physical injuries. Illnesses and adverse medical conditions are also covered under workers' comp.

Can your boss or employer retaliate against you for workers' comp?

Let's say that you suffer an injury while at work. The injury is serious enough that you will be out of commission for a few weeks, and then there will be some rehabilitation and retraining that needs to happen in the weeks after that. In essence, you won't be working for at least a month, and possibly more.

So you inform your work about your desire to obtain workers' compensation. You are entitled to it by law, after all. Upon receiving your request for workers' compensation, your boss gets in touch with you and asks that you don't file for workers' compensation for reasons that remain unclear to you. In response, you tell your boss that you are going to press on with your workers' comp claim.

Investigation into workplace accident is an important step

There are a lot of things that need to happen in the wake of a work accident, whether it is a minor incident or a major accident. Safety protocols and training processes need to be reviewed and possibly changed for the betterment of the company and its employees. An investigation of the actual incident itself is necessary, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may step in an hand out fines or other penalties depending on the results of that report.

And then there are the victims of that accident. These people may be permanently affected by the accident, preventing them from working full time for an extended period, or even the rest of their lives. In the worst case scenario, a worker loses their life as a result of the accident.

Work distractions can cause construction accidents

It is imperative for construction workers to always be aware of their surroundings. This can help in minimizing their risk of suffering an injury at a construction site, in California or any other state. However, it can also help their fellow workers avoid injuries resulting from construction accidents. It seems that one worker may have failed to do this in a recent accident at a construction site, which resulted in one serious injury.

The incident occurred recently at a construction site on the roadway. The construction crew was employed by a private contractor hired by the local government to complete road work in the area. A 23-year-old male worker was raking loose asphalt at the time. Reportedly, the driver of a nearby asphalt roller failed to see the man and ended up running him over.

Injured on the job? We can help you get workers' comp

Imagine that you have been working for a company for many years, and you've never really run into any issues with your job duties or the workplace in general. One day a new employee arrives at the company, and he's a little bit sloppy. It doesn't appear he really soaked in the training that he was given. He leaves boxes and work materials in inappropriate spots. Management recognizes this but, for whatever reason, fails to adequately address it.

Then a couple of weeks later, you trip over some work materials that are in a place that they are not supposed to be. You fall and suffer some injuries that leave you out of work for a couple of months.

Alteration to OSHA reporting rule a positive safety step

Did you know that when a workplace accident occurs, the company doesn't have to inform the Occupational Safety and Health Administration unless an employee is killed or at least three workers are hospitalized for their injuries? That's the way the current rule is drawn up -- but in a major revision to the rule, companies will now also be required to inform OSHA if a worker suffers an amputation or loses an eye in a workplace accident.

Obviously this is a grim topic, and you may debate whether this is a "major" rule change. But when you consider that this data is not readily available right now (at least to OSHA), the fact that amputations and eye loss will be recorded in the future is important. It could lead to improved safety in some dangerous workplaces that, right now, essentially have such injuries covered up.

Some workers in oil and gas industry face increased risk of blood cancer

According to a recent study by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, certain workers in the oil and gas industries may be at higher risk of blood cancers such as leukemia due to routine exposure to high levels of benzene. A known carcinogen, benzene is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in terms of how much exposure workers can have. Exceptions are made for some activities within the industry, though, including the process of hydraulic fracturing.

The study is apparently the first one to look at actual human samples to determine exposure levels. There are some limitations to the study, though, particularly the fact that the sample size is relatively small. Researchers recommended that employers within the industry take action to limit workers' exposure, including limiting exposure times, monitoring exposure levels, and using respiratory and hand protection.

California owner liable for fatal workplace accident in 2013

Last November, the owner of a California development company reportedly engaged some of his employees to carry out routine tree trimming duties at his own property. Unfortunately, none of the men had received the proper training for the task and a fatal workplace accident was the result. The owner of the home and business is now facing a possible prison sentence and fines totaling $1 million dollars.

The accident apparently occurred when a 42-year-old man was using a rented aerial boom to reach a large tree on the boss's property. As he attempted to remove a large branch, it struck him on the head. He then was jarred out of the bucket and hit the ground below. After Cal/OSHA conducted an investigation, the owner was found to be in violation of several serious safety protocols.

While cleaning out tanker with ethanol fumes, worker dies

A fatal work accident in Nevada has raised concerns about the environment and conditions that people who clean tanker cars have to endure. The incident didn't occur here in California, but it happened just across state line in Nevada.

A 47-year-old man was working at a railyard last month and he was assigned to clean one of the tanker cars that was being stored there. This tanker car had ethanol vapors in it, presumably from a previous cargo, and the fumes overwhelmed the 47-year-old and eventually made him lose consciousness. Unfortunately, this led to his asphyxiation. 

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