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Law Offices of Vincent J. Scotto, III, Attorneys & Lawyers Employment & Workers Compensation, San Mateo, CA

San Mateo Workplace Injury Law Blog

Common construction site injuries

The construction industry is an integral part of the economy, but it is also the cause of millions of injuries annually. According to the CDC, construction workers experienced 9 percent of the 3.3 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported in 2009. Twenty-two percent of the injuries could be attributed to falls, but given the nature of the industry, there are a number of causes for construction site accidents.

California readers familiar with this San Mateo Workplace Injury Law Blog may have read the recent blog posts on construction workers getting injured in fall accidents may not be surprised to hear that falls are the most common types of workplace accidents at construction sites. Usually, this involves a fall from some height, from a scaffolding, ladder, roof or crane. Similarly, they are also at risk of getting injured by falling objects.

Worker severely injured on project that injured two previously

Readers of the San Mateo Injury Law Blog may have come across a post late last year, outlining the injuries sustained in a work accident on the California high-speed rail construction site. Two workers were hospitalized and a number of others were injured.

Unfortunately, another worker has gotten crushed at the site in another location recently. According to reports, a 48-year-old man was partially crushed by falling steel. Workers were using a crane to lift materials when the rigging failed. The rebar pinned the accident victim down and broke all his ribs, collarbone, arm and fractured his vertebrae, as well as other bones. His nephew claims the victim may now be a paraplegic as a result.

Don't deal with your workplace injuries alone

An accident can take place in any work setting-it is not necessary that construction sites be the only place where workplace accidents take place. What is necessary that an employer creates a safe working environment for employees and if they are unable to do so, informs the employee of the inherent dangers and how to avoid or minimize them. When their failure to do results in a safety violation that causes a workplace injury, it is an injured worker's right to pursue a workers' compensation claim.

Injured employees may hesitate from filing a claim, either because they feel loyal to their employee or they are afraid of retaliation. However, if not filed timely, the claim may be time-barred. This is also why it may come as a surprise to employees that their employer contests their claim, asserting it was a result of completing a task related to their employment or that the type of medical treatment sought was not necessary.

One dies in workplace accident trimming trees

As mentioned previously on this blog, it is an employer's duty to create a safe working environment for its employees. However, since it may not be possible to remove all hazards from a workplace, it also falls upon an employer to warn workers about dangers they are exposed to and give them training on how to minimize workplace injuries. When an employer is negligent in performing this duty, a catastrophic workplace accident may be the result.

According to the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a tree trimming company did not perform these actions, and, as a result, a 24-year-old worker died. According to Cal-OSHA, the company did not inform workers about the dangers of the job and it also did not take steps to prevent those dangers. It was also determined that parts of the equipment used by the victim were not guarded properly. Cal-OSHA also concluded that the company could not certify that it had properly trained the worker.

State takes measures to reduce workplace injuries in hotels

When people go to a hotel, they expect a certain standard of service, with clean bedrooms and bathrooms, but often do not realize the physical cost this has on hotel housekeepers. Hotel housekeepers have an overwhelmingly high rate of workplace injuries, due to the nature of their job, and there was a lack of framework in place to protect them in California until recently.

Hotel housekeepers push heavy carts, lift mattresses weighing approximately 100 pounds multiple times a day, vacuum across miles of carpet, and scrub glass shower doors routinely. All of this comes at a cost to their health, with the workload leading to a number of musculoskeletal injuries in the forms of sprains, strains and tears. According to Cal/OSHA, these injuries often require physical therapy and can even lead to permanent disability. But, with the new law, California has finally recognized the dangers that plague the industry and has taken steps to protect the workers.

Is fault important in a workers' compensation claim?

Many California residents may not be aware that when they are injured on the job and they are covered under workers' compensation insurance, a workers' compensation claim is their sole remedy for their injuries. An injured employee cannot sue their employer for a work-related injury in any other way. Many may find this system restrictive, as a personal injury lawsuit is probably going to get more compensation for an injured person, but there are certain benefits to pursuing a workers' compensation claim.

As most workers are aware, workers' compensation laws obligate an employer to create a safe working environment for their employees and to provide benefits to injured workers, as long as the injury occurred on the job. The most significant factor of the system, and the most important way it differs from a personal injury lawsuit, is that fault does not have to be proven.

What is employer retaliation?

Many people may hesitate from filing a workers' compensation claim after they have been injured in a workplace accident because they fear they will lose their job or other work-related benefits. However, under California law, it is illegal to discriminate against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment.

What does this mean? This means that employees who have been injured on the job are protected from being fired or treated unfairly because they been injured. Employers cannot threaten to fire or fire someone if they have submitted a workers' compensation claim to the employer or announced the intent to file a claim or application for workers' comp. Additionally, they cannot fire or threaten to fire the employee if they win an award of workers' comp. Also, an employee who testifies on behalf of a colleague cannot be fired or threatened either.

Learn about your legal options after a workplace injury

Even though most California residents spend more time at work than they do at home, they rarely consider the fact that they might get injured in the workplace. Whether working in an office or at a construction site, hazards of various types exist in the workplace and it is an employer's duty to ensure their workplace is either free from risks or that employees are aware of those dangers and how to avoid them.

Many injured workers hesitate before filing a workers' compensation claim. Some don't file because they don't know about their options. Others resist filing because they think asserting their rights will just cause them trouble at work. The truth is that recovering from a workplace injury costs money and time. Filing a workers' compensation claim is an injured workers' right and it is important to file it in a timely manner, otherwise the right might expire.

Construction site accident injures five

People are working especially hard right before the holidays begin, as it might lead to bonuses and overtimes. Families wait all year to spend the holidays together and work hard year-round so that they can save money to spend on loved ones during the festive season. When someone is injured in a workplace accident right before the holidays, it not only puts a damper on the festivities but also means added expenses and frustrations.

These are perhaps the sentiments family members of the five workers who were injured on the massive High Speed Rail project are feeling. A tower made of reinforced steel rods fell on the workers, according to state investigators. Five workers were injured, of which two required hospitalization. According to authorities, there have been about 1500 workers working on the project for the last three years.

Crowd management to limit workplace injuries during sales

Holiday season often mean bonuses for workers, and, if they are working at stores that have slashed their prices to attract customers, there is an added bonus of using the employee discount to get great gifts for loved ones. But, when a retailer does not take the necessary steps to protect their employees in crowded stores, the only gift a worker might get is a workplace injury and ensuing medical bill.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized the dangers a crowded store can pose for employees and has issued some safety guidelines for employers. California employers, similar to their counterparts across the country, adhere to the compliance requirements OSHA issues-if they are found violating OSHA standards, employers might be fined.

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The Law Offices of Vincent J. Scotto, III
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