In San Diego and across California, workers are always at risk for suffering injuries and facing medical costs, lost income and even long-term disability and death. The state tries to implement safety protocols that employers must adhere to. Unfortunately, accidents still happen due to a lack of compliance, unexpected events or from happenstance. Workers should be aware of the laws surrounding workplace injuries and how to get workers’ compensation. In some instances, if the employer has a history of wrongdoing, this could be a critical factor in a successful case. With that, it is important to be cognizant of new laws regarding oversight and safety that will be going into effect at the start of the new year.
Cal/OSHA expands its enforcement authority to address lingering issues
It may seem strange to say, but 2021 is not far from being over. As part of its attempt to enhance workplace safety and encourage employers to think about their employees, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA) is putting into effect new rules to oversee workplaces and issue safety violations. Starting on Jan. 1, 2022, Cal/OSHA will assess workplaces with two new options regarding safety problems: enterprise-wide and egregious. For employers that have multiple worksites and received citations, the violation will be perceived as part of the enterprise if there are work policies that contradict those based on Cal/OSHA’s rules. If violations are common practice or there is a pattern, it will also fall into this category.
There will be egregious violations if the employer did not address a known violation and it led to an unsafe workplace. This could be through conscious intent, by taking a certain action or a specific inaction. It will be egregious if there is a long-term history of violations or a lack of vigilance about workers’ health and safety. The key is bad faith on the part of the employer. Finally, it will be considered egregious if the violations led to worker death, a catastrophe on the worksite such as a construction collapse with at least three employees being hospitalized, or a substantial number of workers suffering injuries or illnesses on the job.
Safety failures can be important in a workers’ compensation claim
Workers can be injured in any type of job whether it is hard physical labor or a sedentary type of employment. These pending laws that will grant Cal/OSHA new powers to cite employers may help to improve safety. Still, when workers are hurt and it is because of failures on the part of the employer, this could be a crucial aspect of a successful workers’ compensation claim. For those who are injured, the process can be confusing and complicated. Knowing what benefits are available, how the medical reviews are conducted, what to do if the claim is disputed or denied and more is essential. Getting approved and maximizing benefits may require experienced assistance. Knowing this is essential from the outset.