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News Stories

California Company Has Struggled With Workplace Safety for a Decade

A California-based recycling plant is under scrutiny after a recent accident, which adds to the company’s decade-long tally of safety hazards at the workplace. Last month, a propane tank on the worksite of the plant exploded; the tank crashed into a nearby vehicle where a man was taking a nap. The accident is one of many, as the recycling facility has been cited six times over the past 10 years for safety issues, including failure to train workers on emergency shut-off buttons and other machinery.

Due to the recent March 2014 incident, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, has launched an investigation into the problems at the facility. In the accident, the propane tank propelled across four lanes of a road before smashing into the car. The victim hardly escaped harm.

The problem is that the company has a documented history of workplace accidents at its Bay Area facilities. Just two years ago, an employee lost fingers in machine, according to Cal/OSHA. In that incident, workers had not received appropriate training for a tool that shaves down metal. Moreover, equipment was not sufficiently labeled.

Ten years ago, there was another egregious accident. A worker at the Vallejo worksite was severely harmed after being struck by a hovering steel beam, which fell from a bridge crane. The employee suffered an abdominal hernia and several fractures along the spine. An investigation subsequent to this accident uncovered that the recycling company failed to train workers about overhead cranes.

The recent incident will take several months to investigate. The recycling company has been fined at least $33,000 for the former safety violations. Hopefully, the recent incident will spur the company to reevaluate safety issues at the workplace.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS IN CALIFORNIA

In California, those injured on the job are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The system provides the following types of assistance, depending on the status of one’s injury or condition:

  • Medical treatment: Employers must provide up to $10,000 in medical care until the workers’ compensation claim is either admitted or denied.

  • Temporary disability: Employees can retain two-thirds of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum limit, depending upon the day of the work-related injury.

  • Permanent disability: The permanent disability is based on whole person impairment assessments from American Medical Association guidelines.

  • Vocational rehabilitation: An injured worker can retain a voucher for retraining, depending upon the extent of the permanent disability.

However, it is important to recognize that even if a worker is entitled to compensation, one must proactively work to secure payments from the applicable insurance company. In many cases, this can be very difficult.

A lawyer versed in California’s workers’ compensation laws can aid you in the challenge to retain the compensation you deserve after a workplace accident.