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Santa Ana Workers' Compensation And Personal Injury Law Blog

California may strengthen worker protections

The gig economy, such as driving for ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber, has provided economic opportunities. But, these opportunities also came at the expense of basic protections, like workers' compensation. A bill passed by the California Assembly late last month may address this by adding new protections and incorporating standards adopted by the California Supreme Court last year.

Assembly Bill 5 would codify standards on whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. It could lead to thousands of workers becoming classified as employees and make them eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay in addition to workers' compensation. In addition to riding-hailing firms, it would also cover freight trucking companies.

State's distracted driving laws may get tougher

Distracted driving is involved in almost 10% of traffic fatalities in California. To help combat these car accidents, the California legislature unanimously passed a measure that would add one point to a motorist's record if they are caught texting or holding a phone while driving.

If signed into law by the governor, the measure will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The bill was amended in committee to allow the addition of this point only if the motorist was caught texting or holding a phone within 36 months of a previous violation.

Common workplace hazards for farmworkers

Farmworkers provide a valuable service to the world, but the job comes with many safety concerns. In fact, the CDC states that agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries. Farmworkers face a significant risk for injuries and fatalities. Approximately 100 agricultural employees suffer an injury that causes them to take time off work. 

Why is farm work so dangerous? Here are some of the workplace hazards that jeopardize the health and safety of millions of farmworkers. 

Caltrans fined for worker risk in homeless camp cleanups

The causes of worker injuries may be endless. These are not necessarily limited to workplace accidents and may also include dangerous or unhealthy conditions. Earlier this month, CalOSHA fined Caltrans for not taking appropriate actions to protect its workers cleaning up homeless camps under bridges and along roadways.

Last Nov., the International Union of Operating Engineers filed a complaint with CalOSHA as part of its efforts seeking better protections for Caltrans workers who cleaned up human waste, used feminine hygiene products and needles as they disbanded homeless camps under bridges and near roadways.

First-responders seek benefits coverage for PTSD

Workplace injuries may go beyond physical harm. Police and firefighters in California suffered psychological injuries after consecutive seasons of mass shootings and record-breaking fires.

Organizations representing these professions, accordingly, are seeking passage of a new law that would grant workers' compensation coverage for work-related psychological injuries.

Top workplace injuries reported

Workplace injuries have many causes. The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index contains an annual report citing the 10 causes of the most serious work injuries. Its 2019 list of the causes of workplace accidents and injuries spans many occupations.

These injuries caused a worker to miss at least five workdays. Injuries were ranked by their direct cost to employers consisting of payment of medical costs and lost wages. This report is based on non-fatal injury data from 2016.

Getting healthcare workers the support they need

When you think of dangerous jobs, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most people would say firefighters, police officers or soldiers face the most danger — and these are definitely professions that carry many risks. However, those involved with the healthcare industry know that there is another, often overlooked category of high-risk professions.

Nurses and orderlies, along with other types of hospital and clinic workers, have one of the highest injury rates in the country. They are even more prone to receiving complicated back injuries with lifelong consequences. It is especially important for these types of workers to secure adequate settlements or workers' compensation arrangements from their employers.

Manufacturer may pay $250,000 penalty for fatal accident

Safety requirements for manufacturing equipment may be vital to prevent accidents that seriously injure or even kill workers. In its investigation of one of these workplace accidents, the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety cited a ceramic materials manufacturer in Santa Ana for its alleged failure to guard machinery and provide proper training. A worker was killed in an accident involving this device in Sept. 2018.

This manufacturer utilizes industrial pug mills to produce and mix clay. The worker became caught in the unguarded mixing blades of a pug when he tried to find out why clay stopped going through the machine's extender. In its investigation of the worker's death, Cal/OSHA determined that his employer removed safety guards from the industrial mixer and did not train the worker before the accident.

Study examines surge in pedestrian fatalities

At least 17 pedestrians are struck and killed by vehicles every day in this country. The Governor's Highway Safety Administration recently studied the causes of these deaths, which have risen to a 30-year high, from car accidents and other vehicle collisions.

According to the most recent estimates, 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2018. While overall traffic fatalities dropped six percent from 2008 to 2017, according to the GHSA, pedestrian deaths rose by 355 and are continuing to grow.

Tesla factory facing injuries and safety violations

Tesla's 5.3 million-square foot plant in Fremont California is a state-of-the-art facility which has over 15,000 full-time workers and contract workers that assemble 254,000 vehicles. While having the most employees of any American facility and the latest innovation, the plant also has the age-old problem of safety violations and workplace accidents.

This plant has been the subject of more workplace safety investigations and received more fines than other U.S. automobile plants in the last five years. There were 24 investigations by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 2014 to 2015 which led to fines for 54 violations, according to Forbes Magazine. These include new penalties that have not been listed in the national Occupational Safety and Health Administration database and which almost double Tesla's fines over the last five years to $236,730.

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