Authorities recently reported a West Nile Virus outbreak in Los Angeles County. Along with other possible workplace injuries, it poses a significant risk to workers whose jobs have them working outdoors. Reportedly, WNV is endemic in this area of California, posing high risks during the summer months when the heat brings increased mosquito activity between dusk and dawn.
The gig economy has become more and more popular for those looking for flexible working schedules. Many people who drive for Uber, Lyft or Amazon fit driving into their lives to supplement income as a side job. But others have switched to driving full time.
Tens of thousands of workers across California work outside the traditional 9-to-5 working hours to keep the economy running 24/7. The lack of sufficient sleep makes these workers more vulnerable to workplace injuries. Some of the most catastrophic industrial disasters like the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Three Mile Island Nuclear accident were partly to blame on sleepy workers on extended shifts.
Although the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health does not have specific safety standards to regulate sanitation workers and vehicles, employers must comply with general safety standards to keep employees in this industry safe. Although automated side-loaders have made a significant difference in the exposure garbage collectors face, these workers continue to come in contact with garbage and multiple other hazards. Collectors of refuse and recyclable materials without proper safety training face life-threatening risks.
More and more workers in California have to get used to dealing with robotic co-workers and the threats they pose. New risks need new precautions, and employers must provide the necessary safety training to ensure that employees can recognize hazards and know how to mitigate them. Following two robot-related workplace injuries gave rise to new recommendations regarding employee safety when working around demolition robots and laser-guided forklifts.
California has long taken a leading role in protecting the environment, and a lot of us love to reduce, reuse and recycle. The recycling industry can be hard on workers, however, and the dangers can be as varied as they are concerning.
National Heatstroke Prevention Day was held on July 31. Underscoring the dangers of heat-related workplace injuries at this time makes sense because of the heatwaves that have threatened many outdoor workers so far this summer. The issues highlighted by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health include the fact that a significant percentage of heat-illness incidents involve workers on their first day of work.