Construction Fatalities Cost California Residents $2.9 billion

 

 
168 Construction Workers Killed in Workplace Accidents
 
Occupational injuries and fatalities in the construction industry cost California residents $2.9 billion between 2008 and 2010, a new Public Citizen report shows. Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.
 
The report, “The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in California’s Construction Industry,” quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in the state’s construction industry by considering an array of factors.
 
From 2008 to 2010, 168 construction workers were killed in workplace accidents in California. Additionally, the state recorded 50,700 construction-industry injuries and illnesses that required days away from work or a job transfer.
 
Drawing on a comprehensive 2004 journal article that analyzed the cost of occupational injuries, and combining the paper’s findings with updated fatality and injury data, the group determined that such incidents cost the state’s economy $2.9 billion during the three-year period.
 
 
Report Proposes Safety Required for State Contracts
 
As a partial solution, the report proposes that California pass a law requiring companies to demonstrate adherence to safety standards in order to be eligible to bid for state contracts. Such a solution not only would ensure that public-sector projects are fulfilled by responsible contractors but also would provide incentives for companies to maintain clean records while working on private-sector sites.
 
The report notes that California already screens construction companies to ensure that they have met performance standards in the past and haven’t violated any laws. The state also incorporates some safety standards in its prequalification system. But the system should be expanded to require construction firms to put greater emphasis on demonstrating that they provide safety training to workers and site supervisors, and that they have not had serious safety violations.
 
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.comContact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

California Employers Arrested for Fraud, Tax Evasion, and Grand Theft

 

Fraud, Tax Evasion, and Grand Theft

 

The apparent owners of a Fresno-based commercial floor care business have been arrested for workers compensation premium fraud, tax evasion, and grand theft, according to state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

 

Charged are Osvaldo Molina, 40, of Fresno; Fortino Galeno, 46, of Fresno; and Alicio Galeno, 41, of Los Angeles.

 

Molina and Fortino Galeno have each been charged with 61 felony counts and Alicio Galeno has been charged with 23 felony counts.

 

According to detectives from the San Joaquin Valley Premium Fraud Task Force, Floor Care Systems was incorporated in California in July 2002 by Molina, however, the investigation revealed that Fortino Galeno was the true owner of the business. Floor Care Systems operated in Fresno and Los Angeles counties, cleaning floors in supermarkets.

 

 

Under-reported $5,000,000 in Payroll

 

Investigators learned that between April 2007 and October 2011 Messrs. Molina and Galeno are suspected of under-reporting more than $5,000,000 in employee payroll to their insurance carrier.

 

The apparent fraud cost insurers an estimated $782,000 in workers comp premiums and caused the state to miss out on $187,000 in withholdings, according to Jones.

 

Detectives also found evidence indicating that Alicio Galeno failed to pay minimum wage to employees and locked employees inside their work area without proper supervision, Jones added.

 

The investigation into Floor Care Systems centered on the misrepresentation of employee payroll to insurance carriers reducing the proper premium, and improper reporting to the Employment Development Department.

 

 

Up to Five Years in Prison and $50,000

 

If convicted on all charges, Messrs. Molina and Fortino Galeno could receive up to one year in county jail, or receive two to five years in prison for each felony count or pay fines up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, or by both imprisonment and fine. Alicio Galeno could receive up to one year in county jail or state prison for each felony count.

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

SB863 Changes Coming in January, California Employers Advised to Learn New Law

Senate Bill 863 Signed Into Law

 

Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law on September 19, 2012 what was known as Senate Bill 863.  The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2013, makes major changes in the largest (and many people would argue the most complex) state workers’ compensation system.  Unfortunately, instead of simplifying the workers’ compensation law, it appears the changes in the law will make the California system even more complex.

 

 

Insurers Not Sure Will Realize Cost Savings

 

Governor Brown, who actively promoted the new law, claims the changes in the workers’ compensation system will reduce cost to employers by $1 billion dollars in the first year.  However, insurers overall are not so sure, with many of them considering the changes in the workers’ compensation law to be neutral in cost at best, and foresee higher claims cost if the theoretical savings forecasted by the authors of the law do not come about.

 

 

Changes and New Regulations

 

The new law is over 100 pages long and approximately 60,000 words.  There are approximately 50 statutory changes that go into effect on January 1, 2013.  Some of the areas of workers’ compensation that will be impacted with changes or new regulations/ requirements include:

 

  • Payment of permanent disability awards

 

  • Independent review process for medical treatment

 

  • Creation of an independent review process for medical billing disputes

 

  • Fees for current and future lien filings

 

  • Vouchers

 

  • Fee schedules for home health care, language interpretation and other workers’ compensation related services

 

  • Psychological/sleep/sexual claims

 

  • Self insurance

 

  • Carve outs

 

 

30% Increase in Permanent Disability Benefits

 

The reason many insurers do not foresee a cost benefit to the new law is due to the change in the payment of permanent disability benefits.  The new law will increase permanent disability benefits by 30%.  That is a given.  The estimated cost savings to be derived from the other changes are supposed to offset the increased level of permanent disability benefits plus save California employers an additional billion dollars per year.  The issue for insurers is the increase in permanent disability benefits is a definite cost increase while the cost savings from the other changes in the law are speculative at best.

 

The reason the cost savings are considered speculative is the new law leaves to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to draw up regulations on how to implement the new law.  As there is only 3 months before the law is scheduled to go into effect, the DIR which is required to get public in-put, will be pressed to establish all the necessary regulations in a timely manner.  There are insurers who are concerned that the new regulations from the DIR will not be employer friendly, and will not contain the proper level of balances and controls.

 

 

Short Time Before Law Goes Into Effect, Educate Yourself

 

The short time frame before the new law goes into effect also creates a substantial problem for employers, defense attorneys, medical providers, and claims adjusters in learning the new workers’ compensation requirements.  The law is complex and it will require a significant amount of retraining and/or rethinking by the people who on a daily basis have to deal with the workers’ compensation system.

 

If you are a California employer, we recommend you quickly take the necessary steps to educate yourself on the changes coming in California workers’ compensation.

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

The Best Tidbits of News From the Workers Comp Community

 

Cavalcade of Risk #166

 

A summary of the top risk prevention blog posts of the week: Manage Your Trading Risk ,  The Key to an Effective ERM Program., An Alternative to Having “Skin in the Game” Most Colorado Residents Have Health Insurance., Life Insurance for Parents., My Wealth Builder., Challenges in Putting The Client First. InsureBlog., Do I need earthquake insurance? , 

 

Read the Articles here: Cavalcade of Risk #166

 

 

Workers Compensation Seminar

 

Workers’ Compensation claims can have a significant impact on your business through lost productivity, claims costs, and litigation risks. Dinsmore attorneys are committed to keeping you up-to-date — more prepared and more productive in handling WC claims and mitigating risk. During this year’s three-hour seminar, you’ll learn about a variety of subjects including hearing preparation and electronic claim filing though ICON and Dolphin systems, updates on the “Substantial Aggravation” standard, Voluntary Abandonment, IMEs and rating issues for state-funded employers. Register for the event HERE

 

 

The real future of SB 863 is in the hands of system participants.

 

 

The California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference, which started yesterday, could not have been more fortuitously scheduled with the opening presentation occurring just 19 days after the Legislature shut its doors for the season and the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 863 just the day before.As one might expect, most of the buzz at the conference is about SB 863 and my public sentiment thermometer gauged that most everyone believes that there are good provisions, bad provisions, and elements that could go either way depending upon how the regulations implementing the changes are drafted … and how the courts interpret both the new law and regulations. Read More…

 

 

California DIR Officials Outline Goals and Tasks for Implementing SB 863 Workers’ Comp Reforms by David Bryan Leonard, Esq

 

The 2012 California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference opened September 19, 2012 at the St. Regis Resort, Dana Point with an update from the DIR/DWC/WCAB entitled “What’s on the horizon for 2013?”

Presented by WCAB Chairwoman Ronnie Caplane and Katherine Zalewski, Chief Counsel for the Department of Industrial Relations, the panel gave a candid summary of Senate Bill 863.  Just signed into law by Governor Brown, SB 863 was presented as a sweeping overhaul of California’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

 

Acknowledging that SB 863 imposes seemingly “daunting” tasks for the WCAB and DIR, both panelists noted the need for additional enabling regulations from each Department.   Read more…

 

 

Special Discount to Attend the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference

 

Worker’s Compensation Expert Rebecca Shafer will be presenting at the 21st Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® in Las Vegas, November 7 – 9.

 

Rebecca would like to invite you to join her there and be a part of the nation’s leading training event for workers’ comp and disability management professionals. And, more importantly, to benefit from all the great strategies and best practices you’ll learn that will help you solve the biggest challenges facing our industry.

 

The organizers have given Rebecca a special discount to offer you– $320.00 off the on-site rate – even larger than the discount advertised in the brochure. You can attend all the sessions and networking events over the two-and-a-half days for only $975.

 

To attend at this special $320.00 discount, register by Oct. 22 using Promo Code SPKR12 (all caps).  Register atwww.WCConference.com

 

 

<pAuthor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Operation Underground Stings CA Contractors for Workers Comp Fraud

Contractors Under-reporting to Avoid Work Comp Insurance

 
California officials report dozens of workers have been hit with citations in a statewide sweep targeting contractors for allegedly under-reporting payrolls in order to avoid paying higher workers compensation insurance and taxes, according to state officials.
 
The Contractors State License Board, Department of Insurance and Employment Development Department (CSLB) jointly conducted “Operation Underground” last month to check for potential “off the books” activity by 133 contractors, resulting in 104 citations and stop orders, according to the CSLB.
 
A CSLB spokeswoman said it may take up to a year to complete investigations arising from the two-day sweep.
 
 
Misdemeanor or Felony Charges
 
Misdemeanor or felony charges could be filed, depending on the level of wrongdoing uncovered, she said, adding that, in the meantime, none of the contractors can be identified.
 
Contractors in 11 counties were cited during Operation Underground.
 
Participants in the state’s underground economy are harmful to everyone,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “Anyone who neglects their responsibility to comply with state contracting, insurance, and payroll requirements drives up premiums. At the same time, legitimate licensed contractors struggle because illegal operators underbid them.”
 
 
Tips for Hiring Contractors
 
Officials reminded people planning to hire a contractor for residential or commercial work to keep the following in mind:
 
– any contracting job valued at more than $500 requires a license;
– unlicensed contractors can perform work that’s less than $500, but they must disclose that they’re not licensed in ads, according to state law;
– before anyone hires a contractor, they should verify the person’s license via the CSLB’s website, www.checkthelicensefirst.com;
– obtain at least three bids; and
– never pay more than 10 percent of the total estimated cost of a job, or $1,000, whichever is less.
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

California Sees More Financial Troubles with Workers Comp

 

As if California does not have enough monetary problems, now comes word that insurers’ witnessed billions in financial losses during 2011.
 
The Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau reported that the insurers who provide coverage for the majority of employers collected $10.4 billion in premiums in 2011, but paid out some $7.7 billion in support benefits and medical care, and had expenses of $5 billion, thereby losing approximately $2.3 billion.
 
According to the new report, losses on workers comp coverage were greater than those experienced in 2010.
California’s workers comp insurers on average in 2011 spent approximately $1.22 on claims and expenses for every dollar of premium they took in. That compares to $1.17 in both 2010 and 2009, $1.01 in 2008 and 85 cents in 2007.
 
Insurers, the report points out, paid out $4.4 million for medical care of disabled workers and another $3 million in direct support benefits to workers. The report, however, does not include data from large private and public employers who generally self-insure for job injuries as opposed to purchasing insurance.
 
 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

I Want To Collect Workers Comp AND Operate a Business. Sorry, That Is Not Allowed

A California man is facing the possibility of prison time for his alleged involvement in a workers compensation scheme.

 
 
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones recently announced that Jeong M. Baek, 36, the owner of Baeks Brother Construction, Inc. has been arraigned on one felony count each for violating Penal Code Section 550 (b) (3), Insurance Fraud, Penal Code Section 664/118, Attempted Perjury, Insurance Code Section 11880 (a), Workers Compensation Insurance Premium Fraud, and Unemployment Insurance Code Section 2118.5, Failure to collect and/or pay taxes. If convicted, Baek could face up to five years in state prison on each insurance fraud count and restitution in the amount of approximately $68,632.67.[WCx]
 
 
According to investigators from the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Silicon Valley Regional Office, CDI received a suspected fraudulent claim referral from an insurer, stating they had a possible fraudulent insurance claim. Baek claimed to have had suffered an injury while working as a plumber in 2008.
 
 
After a short period of being off work and receiving disability benefits, Baek returned to work until 2009, when his claim was re-opened. Without any modified work available, Baek was laid off from his plumbing job and continued to receive disability benefits based on his plumbing job wages.
 
 
While Baek was unable to work, the insurer discovered that Baek owned and operated the construction business, Baeks Brother Construction, Inc., and had an active building permit in the City of Cupertino. The insurer later conducted surveillance of Baek and obtained video of him performing plumbing work. The investigation conducted by CDI revealed that for 18 months Baek operated his construction business while he collected nearly $60,000 in disability benefits.
 
 
While CDI investigated Baek's insurance claim, it was discovered that Baek was also committing insurance fraud against a second insurance carrier, and failed to collect payroll taxes reportable to the Employment Development Department (EDD).
 
 
In his second case of fraud Baek obtained workers comp insurance for his construction business with the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF). Investigators discovered that Baek fraudulently under-reported his employee payroll and misclassified employees in order to obtain a lower insurance premium.
 
 
The payroll that was hidden from the insurance carrier was also omitted from annual reports to the EDD, resulting in Baek's company fraudulently avoiding to pay the required California employment taxes, giving his business an unfair advantage and thereby operating in the underground economy.[WCx]
 
 
The case is being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com
MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Officer Charged with Workers Comp Fraud

 

 
Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully recently announced the filing of charges against California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Tony Yao for felony workers compensation insurance fraud.
 
 
As outlined in the arrest warrant affidavit, Officer Yao filed a workers comp insurance claim on Aug. 11, 2011, stating that he had injured his back during firearms training at the CHP Academy on May 13, 2011. At the time of the alleged injury, Yao was assigned to an administrative position. [WCx]
 
 
For the next several months, Yao told his treating physicians that the back injury was so severe he was unable to perform even limited duties, including office work. Based on his complaints of pain and physical limitations, Yao’s doctors recommended that he undergo back surgery.
 
 
The CHP Office of Internal Affairs Workers Compensation Fraud Investigation Unit conducted an investigation into Yao’s claims. The investigation included several days of videotaped surveillance, where Yao is seen engaging in various physical activities, in direct conflict with the limitations he described to his physicians.
 
 
The investigation also revealed that on the date Yao claimed to have been injured, he had not used the training equipment for which he blamed the injury. He also failed to disclose back injuries he had previously received in a non-work related motor vehicle accident. [WCx]
 
 
Yao, who was arrested by the CHP and booked into the Sacramento County jail,has been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation.

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Amusement Park Owner Charged in Workers Comp Fraud Scheme

 

A California amusement park owner charged with workers comp fraud and tax evasion has entered into a plea agreement with the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office.


Following a suspected fraudulent claim referral form from the insurance company, investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, Workers Comp Fraud Unit, served a search warrant on various properties owned and/or controlled by Thomas, 58, and Sharie Davis, 54, both of Fontana. Thomas and Sharie Davis are the owners of Davis Enterprises, a carnival and amusement park business. This is all according to the DA's office.[WCx]


During the course of the investigation it was found that Davis had illegally operated at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County and other carnivals in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Following the investigation, it was determined that the Thomas and Sharie Davis underreported the amount of their company payroll in order to pay smaller premiums to the State Compensation Insurance Fund, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Chiriatti, Jr., who is assigned to the case.


In addition to the insurance fraud, Thomas and Sharie Davis also failed to pay payroll tax between April 2010 and March 2011.


According to the plea agreement, Davis agreed to pay $195,937 to the State Compensation Insurance Fund and $18,206 to Employment Development Department. In exchange for her pleas, the charges against her husband were dropped. [WCx]


As of result of their fraud, Davis Enterprises illegally pocketed over $200,000 in taxes and insurance premiums,” said Chiriatti. “This is felony conduct, and I am happy that the defendant has been held responsible for her fraudulent behavior.



Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.



WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com
MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

LA Fire Department Supports Awareness Campaign to Reduce Tragic Confined Space Deaths

The Los Angeles Fire Department recently became the latest organization to sign on to Cal/OSHA’s confined space awareness campaign which is an effort to educate employers and employees about the dangers of working in confined spaces. The Oakland Fire Department is also participating. 

 

 

Cal/OSHA launched the statewide campaign in February, citing seven confined space deaths and numerous injuries in the state in 2011 – all of which were preventable. Cal/OSHA says its comprehensive approach to preventing further confined space deaths and injuries includes: public education and media alerts, enforcement and consultation and ongoing partnerships to help increase awareness and compliance.[WCx]

 

 

California's Department of Industrial Relations Director, Christine Baker, points out that employers need to have an effective emergency response plan in place before a critical situation arises.

 

 

Confined spaces are enclosed spaces that can be entered by workers, but have limited openings for entry or exit, and are not designed for continuous worker occupancy. Common examples include tanks, silos, pipelines, sewers, storage bins, drain tunnels and vaults. Confined spaces can be found in many industries and also in non-industrial workplaces. The 2011 California deaths occurred in a wide range of industries including a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical facility, a winery, a paint manufacturing plant and a recycling center.

 
 
One of these incidents occurred last January at Baxter Biosciences, a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Los Angeles. A 33-year old technician entered a blood plasma tank to measure its contents when he collapsed in the oxygen deficient atmosphere. Two of his colleagues entered the tank in order to attempt a rescue and collapsed as well. All three workers were extricated from the tank by the Los Angeles Fire Department. The first worker died, the second remains unconscious, and the third was injured but recovered.  

 

 

Last October, a similar scenario occurred at the Community Recycling & Recovery facility in Lamont, when a 16-year-old worker cleaning a drainage tunnel was overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas. Another worker, his brother, aged 22 was rushed in to save him and was also overcome. Both workers died. Last week, Cal/OSHA levied fines totaling $166,890 for multiple violations of confined space regulations against the employer. Cal/OSHA’s criminal investigation in this case is still ongoing.

 

 

It is even more tragic that in many cases, workers attempting to rescue their co-workers also fall victim,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess. “Confined spaces can be deceptively dangerous. Employers need to assess if they have such a hazard, identify and mark those spaces, provide employee and supervisor training and on-site rescue plans and equipment.”[WCx]

 

 

In the last year alone, we have responded to three confined space rescues,” said Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Wise. “It is our experience that the victims, would-be rescuers and co-workers, either fail to adhere to their emergency plans or simply do not have a plan in place, with catastrophic results.”  
 

 

 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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