For many Californians, the perfect summertime job involves time outdoors. However, while the season offers many unique employment opportunities, those opportunities commonly involve unique risks related to the warmer temperatures.
If you’ve been injured due to a safety hazard at your workplace that results in the need for medical treatment and time missed from work, you can seek benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. This is a no-fault insurance policy that most California employers are required to obtain on behalf of their employees to cover medical expenses and wage loss associated with workplace injuries and illnesses. Here is a look at the top four summer workplace safety hazards.
Those who spend a prolonged amount of time outdoors in extreme heat are at risk of experiencing heat stress. Heat stress can lead to several conditions, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rashes. Additionally, heat can cause sweaty palms, dizziness, dehydration, and other issues that can increase workers’ risk of incurring injuries.
All workers with outside jobs should be trained to recognize the signs of heat stress, including:
Heat stress is an occupational risk in several industries, including construction, transportation, and agriculture. While heat-related illnesses can often be prevented through regular hydration, breaks, and shade, heat stress remains one of the most common and dangerous summertime work hazards and can lead to medical emergencies or even death.
There are hundreds of thousands of miles of roadway in California, and while road work can and does occur year-round, many road construction projects are planned for the summer months. Many college students have worked on a road construction crew during the summertime. However, the construction industry is one of the riskiest in the nation, and road construction work zones contain many hazards.
Transportation accidents are a major hazard for road crews, with speeding or distracted drivers in proximity to workers. The heavy equipment used in the construction project also poses risks to workers. Heat stress, sun exposure, and other issues related to working outside and around hot equipment can cause injuries and illnesses.
California is home to several types of venomous spiders, including black widows, brown widows, and brown recluses. A bite from any one of these spiders can result in the need for emergency medical treatment or even death in some cases. There are many other types of biting or stinging insects that can cause a person to have painful or dangerous reactions, including ticks, fleas, mosquitos, bees, and wasps.
One of the most dangerous reactions a summer worker can have to a spider or bug bite is anaphylaxis, which is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction that commonly includes hives, difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting, and even loss of consciousness. Any job outdoors in California places a worker at risk of encountering biting insects and spiders.
Just as a summer job can place a worker in proximity to biting bugs, it can also place them in areas inhabited by poisonous plants or plants that cause a worker to have an allergic reaction. Some common culprits in California include poison oak, wood nettle, ragweed, and more. Many of these plants release a sap that can cause rashes when it comes in contact with the skin. Additionally, if these plants are burned and the smoke is ingested by workers, it can cause lung irritation.
Workers can often protect themselves from the effects of poisonous plants in their summer workplace by wearing long-sleeved, protective clothing. When a worker gets a rash from a poisonous plant, there is a risk of a bacterial infection. Anaphylaxis is also a risk from contact with a plant that a worker is allergic to.
The effects of climate change have resulted in an increasing number of national disasters in California, including floods and wildfires. When these disasters occur, there is often a need for cleanup crews to come into a community to provide the manpower necessary to get things up and running again.
One of the biggest risks for cleanup crews after a flood has occurred is electrocution resulting from water being present in or near electrical circuits. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur due to exposure to the fumes from gas and diesel fuels used in pumps, generators, or pressure washers. Back injuries are also common during flooding cleanup due to the strain placed on the soft tissues of the back when lifting heavy debris.
After fires, cleanup crews commonly face hazards that include injuries from burnt and unstable buildings and trees. They also face electrical dangers that include exposed underground live wires or live wires hanging from poles. There are risks associated with working in proximity to the heavy equipment used in cleanup operations. Breathing difficulty is common due to irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs from smoke and ash.
California employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, and that coverage is generally used to pay for medical expenses associated with the injury as well as wages lost while the worker is recovering. Some cases, such as a transportation accident in a work zone, involve third-party liability, which means someone other than an employer or coworker was at fault for the accident that caused the injury. In those cases, the personal injury claims process is likely the appropriate avenue. The experienced attorneys at KCNS Law Group can help you determine the appropriate avenue for obtaining the assistance you need in handling the expenses and impacts of your injury.
In many cases, a lawyer can also handle the claims process on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your physical recovery while we take care of your financial one. For a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer from KCNS Law Group, contact us online or call (818) 937-9255.