Recently in Workers' Compensation Category

Medical Center Cited After Fatal Work Accident

March 12, 2013,

Unsafe and unhealthy work conditions were discovered during a recent inspection by officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The workplace in question was the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Officials recently concluded an investigation which was prompted by the death of a research associate that happened at the center's research laboratory in April of last year.
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The center received notices, consisting of three serious violations. These violations included neglect in protecting workers who were researching Neisseria meningitides, which is a bacterium that can cause meningitis.

Our Los Angeles work injury lawyers understand that the victim in the fatal accident at that laboratory died because he was not properly being protected from the live bacteria he was working with. In these researcher efforts, the victim and his fellow researchers were inoculating the bacteria outside of a biosafety cabinet. A biosafety cabinet is to be used by anyone who is handling pathogens in a laboratory.

Research hospitals, as well as all types of medical centers, are required to make sure that its workers are protected from any kind of dangers on the job. Employers are required to eliminate exposure to dangerous materials and bacteria. The proper safety precautions can save lives. As a worker, you should be required with the proper safety equipment and with the proper training to help to keep yourself safe on the job. If you're not getting this protection, you're urged to speak up. You have a right to voice your concern about any threats you may encounter on the job.

The San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center was handed three serious violations. Within these violations, it was cited for neglecting to make sure that employees work with the proper safety enclosure while conducting microbiological work with a viable bacteria culture. They were also cited for neglecting to make sure that all workers were properly trained on how to recognize the symptoms and signs of illnesses resulting from overexposure to this kind of bacteria. Lastly, the center was cited for neglecting to provide to employees with the proper vaccines. When a center is slapped with a serious violation, it means that there was significant probably that serious injuries or death could have resulted from a hazard in which the employer knew about or should have known.

Bacteria can be found in workplaces in virtually all industries. I can be passed from one to another in a number of ways. It's critical for workers who work with bacteria to take all the proper safety precautions to make sure that the bacteria does not harm them. When working in hospitality, bacteria can be passed through food. In a healthcare setting, bacteria can be passed on through the transmission of blood.

Biological agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi, other microorganisms and their associated toxins. They have the ability to adversely affect human health in a variety of ways, ranging from relatively mild, allergic reactions to serious medical conditions, even death.

Continue reading "Medical Center Cited After Fatal Work Accident" »

Three Killed in Movie Set Helicopter Crash

February 28, 2013,

Earlier in the month, a helicopter accident took the life of three people. It has been called the worst film accident in 30 years and it's sparking the debate over the working conditions of TV reality programs.
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In this case, the dead included a show cast member, the pilot and a cameraman. It happened at the Polsa Rosa Ranch in an area right by Soledad Canyon Road in Acton, according to the Los Angeles Times. The crew was working on filming a Discovery Channel reality show called "Untitled Military Project."

Our Los Angeles workers' compensation attorneys understand that the crew had the proper permits with the FilmL.A. Inc. to be filming via helicopter from 5:00 p.m. on Saturday through 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. Officials have yet to determine what caused the accident. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating.

"We are cooperating fully with the authorities," said Eyeworks USA in a statement. "We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those involved."

This is the second deadly accident that involved a Discovery Channel Production in the last year. Back in June, a woman died while working with errant smoke bombs. This accident happened while crews were filming a pilot for a proposed series for the Discovery Channel in Colorado.

Officials believe that the helicopter accident was the worse in the state since 1982. The last accident that was this serious happened when film star Vic Morrow and two young actors died in a helicopter accident during the filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie." When this accident happened, reports indicate that the helicopter was flying too low and got caught up in a stunt involving pyrotechnics. These fatalities started a whole debate regarding the safety standards and procedures of film sets. It also prompted some stricter rules for these crews.

Back in May of 2011, a cameraman was killed when a helicopter came down during the filming of "Campus PD."

The recent helicopter accident at the Polsa Rose Ranch was the second accident that happened in the last year. Back in September, a diver drowned while getting a tank ready for a scene to be shot underwater during the filming of "The Lone Ranger."

We realize that some of these productions are working on tight budgets. Regardless of budget, there is no legitimate reason to scrimp on safety. Cutting corners will only increase the risks for accidents and expose crew members and cast members to unnecessary risks. It's also important to make sure that safety personnel are properly trained to work with the equipment on set.

The accident was reported to officials with the Cal/OSHA. It has not yet opened an investigation into the accident but says that "we're looking into the accident and trying to figure out if we have jurisdiction," according to a spokesman.

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Injured Worker Warrants Investigation of NCIS Production Set

February 27, 2013,

During the filming on the CBS television show "NCIS: Los Angeles," a camera operators was sent to the hospital. According to the Los Angeles Times, the accident happened during the filming of a stunt scene at the Burbank Airport.
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Our Los Angeles workers' compensation attorneys understand this incident is actually the latest of several accidents on movie sets to occur in the Los Angeles area in the past few months. Earlier in February, a pilot and a crew member were killed in a helicopter accident while they were filming a series for the Discovery Channel. This has been called the worst accident in the state of California in the last 30 years. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FAA are investigating.

Back in January, there was a stuntman who sustained serious head injuries while filming "Castle" for ABC.

Last year in September, a man drowned in a water tank while working to prepare the area for the Walt Disney Movie "The Lone Ranger." Cal-OSHA is still investigating that accident.

There are a number of movies and TV series that have seen some serious injuries during production, including:

-Jumper

-The Phantom of the Opera

-The Invasion

-The Twilight Zone

-The Final Season

-3:10 to Yuma

-Casino Royale

-PS I Love You

-Blues Brothers 2000

-Cinderella Man

-Moulin Rouge

-Troy

-Gladiator

-The Wizard of Oz

-Pearl Harbor

Filming those action-packed films for movie goers comes with a cost and with some serious risks -- all in the name of entertainment. Movies are reflections of fantasy and adventure and often portray scenarios in which people's lives are put in peril or are indeed taken. However, in reality, film making accidents do happen and people do get hurt.

Hollywood is where most movies and shows are created and filmed. It's critical that these productions, whether big screen motion pictures or even small-budget commercials, follow a strict safety protocol.

Common Causes of Filming Accidents:

-The improper use of equipment.

-The neglect of safety equipment.

-The improper use of explosives that are used for special effects.

-Damages caused by improperly installed equipment.

-Failure to obtain appropriate permits prior to engaging in production.

If you were working on a movie or television show set, your injuries can be covered under workers' compensation or by third-party liability lawsuits. An experienced attorney can help to review each and every element of a claim. Determining liability, fault and whether such harm was assumed is important in deciding whether to bring a cause of action.

Common Injuries Acquired during Filming:

-Broken bones.

-Psychological damages (Commonly a result of explosions).

-Neglect to inform and educate of injury possibility.

-Eye damage.

-Nerve damage.

-Ruptured ear drums.

-Loss of sight.

-Depression.

-Traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Continue reading "Injured Worker Warrants Investigation of NCIS Production Set" »

Chevron Fined Heavily By California Safety Officials

February 3, 2013,

California's Occupational Safety and Health division recently cited Chevron with nearly $1 million in fines as a result of a recent fire at its refinery in Richmond, California. According to Hydrocarbon Processing, the fire at that work site lasted for hours. During the fire, plumes of black smoke were sent over the San Francisco Bay and sent many residents to emergency rooms.
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Officials are still investigating the incident. Thus far, they have concluded that a corroded pipe of the refinery's main crude oil distillation unit caused the fire. Overall, there were close to 30 violations recorded. Within these violations were more than 10 "willful serious" violations and 12 "serious" violations against the company. The company was fined the highest allowable amount under state law.

Our Los Angeles workers' compensation lawyers understand that U.S. workers are required, by state and federal law, to be provided with safe and hazard-free work areas. There are a number of safety standards that each company and work site must follow. Not only do companies run the risk of punishment for not following these rules, but they're also putting their employees at risk for some serious and unnecessary accidents and injuries.

Chevron doesn't agree with the findings. A spokesperson for the company says that the company understands that they didn't live up to their own expectations with this particular incident, but they don't agree with many of the state's OSHA findings.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.

The penalties for these violations can rage anywhere between $5,000 and $70,000.

According to OSHA, there are about 6,000 office fires in the U.S. each and every year. Your best bet to keep workers safe in the event of a fire is to become familiar with the building and with its fire and life safety systems. Workers and supervisors should be aware of where fire extinguishers, manual pull alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, exits, stairwells and fire doors are located.

When a fire happens:

-Make sure you treat every alarm as if it were an emergency, even if you know it's a drill. You're best preparation is knowing exactly what to do in a real emergency.

-Make sure everyone knows the emergency numbers to contact in the event of a real fire. This includes 9-1-1 and local fire departments.

-Whenever exiting for a fire, make sure you close the doors behind you. This helps to limit the spread of smoke.

-Make sure you have an employee meeting somewhere outside in a safe spot.

-Practice these drills regularly!

The employer shall be responsible for the development and maintenance of an effective fire protection and prevention program at the job site throughout all phases of the construction, repair, alteration, or demolition work. The employer shall ensure the availability of the fire protection and suppression equipment.

Continue reading "Chevron Fined Heavily By California Safety Officials" »

California Work Accidents, Cell Phones and Distracted Driving

January 17, 2013,

Are you doing all you can to help to your employees stay safe from the number one cause of workplace fatalities? If you don't have a Cell Phone Policy enacted then the answer is "no."
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The truth of the matter is that distracted driving (cell phone use in particular) has become a national epidemic. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), about a quarter of all car accidents involve a driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the accident.

Our Costa Mesa car accident lawyers understand that companies and employers who ban driving employees from using a cell phone behind the wheel can help save lives. If you're letting your workers talk and text at the wheel, you're not only increasing their risks for an accident, but you're increasing your employer liability.

Officials with the NSC are conducting several free seminars to help you jump start your workplace policy. There will be seminars held in San Diego and in Long Beach. Registration for the event has already started.

Seminar Information:

-San Diego Convention Center on February 28th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

-Long Beach Convention Center on April 25th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

What the seminar will cover:

-Why cell phone distracted driving is so dangerous. It's a behavior that takes the lives of thousands every year.

-How companies and employers can be held liable if one of their workers are involved in an accident where a cell phone-using driver was involved.

-What specific rules and regulations should be included in your company's cell phone policy.

-How to rally employers and managerial members to support this kind of policy and to get them to jump on board with driving safely on the job.

-How to communicate with employees the importance of the policy and how to get them to comply.

According to the Distraction.gov, there were more than 3,330 people killed in distracted driving car accidents in the U.S. in 2011. Many of these fatalities involved on-the-job drivers. It's important to remember that no business is worth risking someone's life over.

The true number being killed in these kinds of accidents each year is likely much higher, but many cases are never properly reported to officials. A driver isn't likely to admit that they were talking on the phone behind the wheel and that's what caused the accident. And there's no testing for it either, like how you can test a drunk driver using a breathalyzer.

Banning cell phone use for driving workers is not as hard as you think. According to a recent report of about 2,000 people, about 99 percent who had cell phone policies in their workplace say that productivity did not diminish.

Continue reading "California Work Accidents, Cell Phones and Distracted Driving" »

Fatal California Work Accident: Worker Trapped in Tuna Oven

October 16, 2012,

Work-safety investigators are trying to determine what led to the death of a tuna worker cooked in an oven.

Wrongful death in Los Angeles can occur on or off the job. Typically, those injured on the job are entitled to workers' compensation benefits -- including death benefits in the event of a fatal accident. Workers' compensation is meant to provide benefits to employees while protecting employers from possible ruinous judgments via personal injury litigation. However, there are circumstances where a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought in connection with a fatal work accident -- most often as a third-party liability claim that alleges wrongdoing on the part of a subcontractor or someone other than your employer. Speaking to Vincent Howard or another experienced injury attorney can help you best protect your rights and determine your options in the wake of such a tragedy. 1207444_courtroom_1.jpg

The San Jose Mercury News reports the 62-year-old worker had been employed for six years when last week's accident occurred at the Bumble Bee seafood processing plant in Santa Fe Springs. The plant, located at its current site since 1990, employs about 300 people in southeast Los Angeles County. It reopened Monday after being closed through the weekend following Thursday's accident.

The employee, a husband and father of six children, died after being trapped inside an industrial sized pressure cooker, which he routinely loaded with tuna. A spokesperson for the California Division of Occupations Safety and Health, which is investigating the incident, said the victim was cooked to death. Results of the investigation are not expected for about six months.

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4,609 employees were killed in work accidents last year. Fatal work accidents in California claimed 360 lives last year, compared to 326 in 2010. Officials believe those numbers will continue to climb as the economy improves.

Fatal California work accidents in 2011:

118 transportation accidents

85 acts of workplace violence

9 fires/explosions

60 fall accidents

36 exposure to harmful substances

50 contact with objects or equipment

The important thing for employees to remember is that, while state and federal workers' compensation laws do provide benefits to injured workers, the laws do a better job of protecting the employer than they do of ensuring an injured worker understands his or her rights. Typically, you are sent to a doctor or medical specialist chosen by your employer's insurance provider. In fact, the whole process often puts at odds what's in your best interest compared to your employer's.

And you typically have a limited amount of time to report an injury or file a claim. Failure to follow specific requirements can result in a delay of your claim or a denial of benefits. If you or a loved one has been injured at work, consulting and experienced personal injury law firm can put the resources on your side that are so often vital to obtaining an adequate recovery.

Continue reading "Fatal California Work Accident: Worker Trapped in Tuna Oven" »

Cal State Long Beach Employee Dies in Los Angeles, California Elevator Accident

December 8, 2011,

A woman who works for Cal State Long Beach died yesterday when the elevator she was in malfunctioned, trapping her between two floors. As 48-year-old Annette Lujan tried to get out, the elevator, which weighs over 2000 pounds, moved, crushing her. The 48-year-old Huntington Beach woman was pronounced dead at the Los Angeles County injury accident site.Lujan was employed in the University Office of Research for Grants and Contracts.

Elevator Accidents
Elevator accidents can cause serious injuries, which is why an elevator should be properly maintained and free from any defects that might cause it to get stuck in between floors, suddenly and rapidly descend without warning, or have its doors open at the wrong moment.

Elevator entrapment can lead to asphyxiation, emotional trauma, and panic attacks. If your elevator suddenly goes into freefall, you may sustain physical injuries from the impact of landing. Walking into an open shaft that doesn't have an elevator to step into can be a traumatic and excruciating experience if one is lucky enough to survive.

Common causes of elevator accidents include:
• Mechanical malfunction
• Improper leveling that prevents the elevator from properly lining up with the floor
• Faulty wiring, which can cause accidental electrocution
• Wet floors that can lead to a Los Angeles slip and fall accident
• Inadequate repairs
• Failure to have the elevator undergo routine inspections and/or maintenance
• An elevator door defect
• Rider carelessness

The building owner where a defective elevator is located, the elevator manufacturer, or the maintenance company responsible for inspecting and keeping an elevator working are some of the parties that could be held liable for Los Angeles premises liability, personal injury, or product liability. An experienced Long Beach injury law firm can help you figure out what happened.

Also, if your elevator accident was work-related, you could be entitled to both California workers' compensation from your insurer and Los Angeles injury recovery from other responsible parties. If it was your loved one that was killed in the work accident, you may be entitled to wrongful death recovery and death benefits from the employer.

Elevator accidents kill about 27 people a year, while about 10,000 others are injured. Please call our Los Angeles personal injury law firm. Howard Law, PC would like to offer you a free consultation. Filing a Los Angeles wrongful death claim won't bring your loved one back but it can help you hold the responsible party liable while providing you with some financial relief.

Cal State Long Beach worker killed climbing from stuck elevator, Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2011

Woman dies in Calif. elevator accident, MSNBC, December 7, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Los Angeles Wrongful Death Claim Blames Metro for Man's Fatal Stabbing, California Injury Lawyers Blog, October 13, 2011

Newport Beach and Costa Mesa Authorities Investigate Orange County, California Death of Woman Struck in Her Car by Fallen Eucalyptus Tree, California Injury Lawyers Blog, September 20, 2011

Mentally Ill Homeless Man Beaten by Fullerton Police Died from Asphyxia, Reports Coroner, California Injury Lawyers Blog, September 21, 2011

Continue reading "Cal State Long Beach Employee Dies in Los Angeles, California Elevator Accident" »

$10.7M Riverside, California Construction Accident Verdict Awarded to Worker Injured in Fall

September 30, 2011,

A California jury has awarded worker Brian Richeson $10,717,498.39 for his Riverside County construction accident injuries. The 46-year-old fell 20-feet when he stepped on a plywood platform that wasn't secured in 2008. The defendant in the case was Tovey/Shultz Construction.

Richeson's injuries to his shoulder and back were so severe that he had to undergo multiple surgeries. He continues to experience weakness and chronic pain and suffers from partial paralysis and his doctors believe his condition will continue to grow worse. Because of the Riverside personal injury accident, Richeson can no longer work as a construction worker.

Because the jury found Richeson to be partly at fault, they reduced is verdict by 50%.

Construction Accident Falls
Construction accident falls are the cause of more than 300 deaths and many more injuries each year. Many falls could have been prevented if only the proper safety measures had been implemented. Common types of construction falls include roof falls, elevator shaft falls, falls through holes in the ground, scaffolding falls, ladder falls, and falls during a crane collapse.

Fall accidents can result in serious injuries that can virtually end a worker's career if not kill them. That's why there are federal and state safety regulations that need to be followed to minimize the risk of construction falls. Broken bones, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and crush injuries can result during a fall.

Unfortunately, working at a construction site is a dangerous business, which is why safety measures must be followed. General contractors and subcontractors are legally obligated to provide workers with a reasonably safe construction site. This includes the set up of safe working conditions while ensuring that the proper protocols and procedures are followed and the correct safety equipment and protection gear are being used.

Although a worker cannot sue his/her employer--California workers' compensation law mandates employers pay work injury benefits and disability and death benefits in the event of a work accident or fatality--there may be third parties that can/should be held liable, such as a subcontractor, a contractor, the owner of the construction site, architects, engineers, the construction manager, or the manufacturer of a defective crane or another piece of construction equipment that failed, that played a role in the injury accident.

If you or someone you love was seriouslt injured in a Riverside County construction accident, there is no reason why you shouldn't receive both your California workers' compensation benefits and personal injury benefits from all liable third parties.

Construction Accidents, Justia

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Preventing Construction Falls, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Blog Posts:
Huntington Beach Construction Worker Dies in Trench Collapse, California Injury Lawyers Blog, April 27, 2009

Toddler Attending Los Angeles Lakers Game Dies After Falling 50 Feet from Staples Center Luxury Seats, California Injury Lawyers Blog, November 22, 2010

Rancho Santa Margarita Plant Explosion Kills Two Workers and Injures Two Others, California Injury Lawyers Blog, April 3, 2009

Rancho Santa Margarita Plant Explosion Kills Two Workers and Injures Two Others

April 3, 2009,
In Orange County, California, investigators are trying to determine what caused an electric heater at a Rancho Santa Margarita factory to explode. The March 19 work blast killed two workers and injured two other night shift employees. 

The blast was so powerful that it cracked the building's concrete walls and seemed to have caused the water heater to soar through the roof of Solus Industrial Innovations, located on Aventura Avenue. The two workers that died are 51-year-old Garden Grover resident Jose Jimenez and 34-year-old Oceanside resident Isidro Echeverria. 

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, water heater blasts in industrial settings are not that common. The standard residential-type water heater that exploded was being used for industrial purposes. While the building's yearly fire inspection was current, the water heater may not have been part of the safety check.

In 2005, there were 253 fatalities involving California industrial accidents. 14 workers were killed in fires and explosions at manufacturing facilities or other work places that year.

Workers' Compensation and Third Party Lawsuits
If someone you love died in a California work accident, you may be entitled to workers' compensation death benefits. These are provided to certain family members regardless of who was at fault in causing the work injury. 

While workers' compensation law prevents injured parties and decedents from suing the employer for California personal injury, there may be other parties that can be held liable for the injury accident. An experienced Orange County, California personal injury law firm can help you explore all avenues of recovery, as well as make sure you receive all of your workers' compensation benefits in a timely manner.

Common Causes of Industrial Accidents, include:

Radiation
Fires
Toxic gas
Chemical spills
Defective machinery or equipment
Human error
Structural collapse
Overexertion
Electrical accidents
Exposure to harsh temperatures
Exposure to toxic or other harmful substances


Two killed in Orange County factory explosion, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2009


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