Wildfires in California can become life-threatening within hours. This was underscored when the fire called Maria recently spread across 8,000 acres within a few hours. With no containment, such a fire threatens the lives of residents and both indoor and outdoor workers. Furthermore, the risks are not over when the fire is extinguished.
Regardless of the industry, employers in California are responsible for the health and safety of employees. A part of that responsibility involves personal protective equipment. From bakeries to construction sites, employees are exposed to hazards that could cause workplace injuries or illnesses if they do not have the necessary PPE.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigation concerning the death of the lead rigger for a Coachella festival underscores the importance of full compliance with safety standards. The rigger fell to his death in April while setting up the stage. He fell from a height of 50 feet, and Cal/OSHA inspectors say his fall harness was not set up to arrest his fall.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns employers and employees nationwide, including California, of the dangers posed by riding lawnmowers to workers nationwide. Statistics indicate that each year, 20,000 lawnmower-related injuries occur, and 75 lives are lost in such accidents every year -- many of them are work-related. A significant number of the injuries result in amputations.
Safety authorities in California say every employee who works with batteries needs adequate safety training. Batteries come in power equipment on construction sites, in tractors, trucks and automobiles, and most of them contain hazardous substances like lead and sulfuric acid. Unless workers who maintain, recharge, and operate batteries know the risks and how to mitigate them, they can suffer severe workplace injuries.
Employers in California are responsible for the health and safety of employees, even when robotics and automated vehicles have replaced many human workers. In facilities where motorized laser-guided vehicles are used, employers must incorporate the safety requirements of the LGV manufacturer into the safety management of the company. Furthermore, human workers who share their workspaces with LGVs must receive safety training on how to avoid workplace injuries.
According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the point of operation of equipment and machines in all industries must be protected against any injury risks. Adequate, and properly installed safeguarding is crucial, and it must be emphasized that workers should never remove or tamper with safety devices like sensors or machine guards. The lack of machine guards can cause catastrophic injuries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is focusing on an initiative regarding the impact of worker fatigue. The agency urges employers in California to limit fatigue-related workplace injuries by establishing less demanding schedules. Irregular shifts and long, demanding work hours are not uncommon in modern workplaces, causing increased stress levels, poor health and worker fatigue.
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.
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.