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Orange County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Have a safe Halloween in Santa Ana

Many Santa Ana residents love to participate in Halloween. In fact, just four short years ago, Santa Ana came in at number four for the best cities to celebrate the October holiday.

Whether you are throwing an adults-only shindig or escorting your costumed kiddos around the neighborhood this year, safety should be paramount. The following tips can allow everyone to have fun and stay safer:

  • Have nonalcoholic alternatives available for partygoers.
  • Close the bar an hour before the party ends.
  • Guests who overindulge should not be permitted to drive. Arrange rides with Lyft or Uber.
  • Kids should trick or treat in groups, and younger children should be accompanied by a parent.
  • Make sure the kids' costumes are not too long and pose a tripping hazard.
  • Drivers should beware of children darting out between parked cars on Halloween.
  • Give kids a flashlight to use and make costumes from fluorescent fabrics.
  • Limit the accouterments. Having a flashlight and a treat bag is more than enough for kids to manage.
  • Keep on the sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Don't let kids step inside strangers' homes for treats.
  • Toss out homemade treats and inspect all the rest closely.

4 key statistics about texting and driving

Texting and driving is way too common, considering just how dangerous it is. People just seem to forget that they are driving a 3,500-pound machine that can take lives and cause serious injuries. When that phone chirps, they feel like they have to pick it up.

Do you want to know how bad the problem really is? Here are four key statistics that help to paint a picture:

  1. More than half of all drivers in the United States (57 percent) say they have texted while they were driving. Some researchers believe the real rate could be higher, but some drivers refuse to admit that they do it.
  2. A staggering 80 percent of car accidents link back to driver inattention that happens right before the crash -- within the previous three seconds. All it takes is a moment for a crash.
  3. When asked about general distracted driving -- not just texting -- the percentage of Americans who admit to it jumped all the way to 74 percent. Of those, about 19 percent used their phones to go on the Internet while behind the wheel.
  4. Despite all of these stats showing that most people suffer from serious distractions, a full 89 percent of people said they thought that texting and driving was dangerous. They felt like it should be illegal.

Top fall hazards to watch out for in the workplace

Workplace falls can happen in almost any occupation. It is true that some jobs, such as working in construction, tend to carry a higher fall risk because people have to work at heights. However, that does not mean you don't face risks even if you work in an office.

To lower the odds of a serious accident, it is important to know what fall hazards to watch out for. Below are a few examples:

  • Unprotected edges, such as a balcony or a catwalk that does not have railings on the sides.
  • Fall protection gear that is not used properly. Sometimes, this happens because employers neglect to give their employees proper training.
  • Openings in the wall and holes in the floor. This could be a serious risk for mechanics, for example, who have pits they can climb down into to work below vehicles.
  • Ladders that are set up improperly. If the ladder is too vertical, it can tip backward. However, a ladder that has a shallow incline could slide down the wall.
  • Slick floors and slippery surfaces. This could happen when working with water, grease, oil and similar substances.
  • Excessive clutter. When the workplace is not cleaned every day, trip hazards lurk around every corner.
  • Unstable surfaces for working and/or walking. Proper maintenance must be done to ensure that the workplace is safe and up to code.

Can you have an 'on duty' meal break?

Under California law, employees must get meal breaks that are 30 minutes long. The first comes if the employee works for more than five hours in a single shift, and a second comes if the employee works for more than 10 hours.

Typically, meal breaks are just that: chunks of time when employees do not have to work at all. They are relieved of all obligations and work-related duties.

Can I miss work for joint pain?

No one wants to miss work due to pain - it is inconvenient and expensive, and it can make you feel like you aren't a dedicated employee. However, workers who are experiencing chronic joint pain may want to consider that excessive use of their joints at their place of employment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that arthritis, one example of joint pain, is the leading cause of work disability in the United States. When you have arthritis, your cartilage surfaces between bones wears away, thus causing the bone to rub on bone.

What are some reasons dogs bite children?

Children face serious risks from dog bites. Because they're so much smaller than adults, many of these bites involve the face and neck area, rather than the hands or legs.

As an adult, keeping a child safe starts with identifying why dogs may bite children. This can help you keep kids out of problematic situations. A few examples include:

  • The child is trying to take a toy or some other possession that the dog thinks of as its own.
  • The dog is eating or attempting to guard food.
  • The child surprised the dog, perhaps by touching it while it was asleep.
  • The dog thinks that the child's style of play is overly aggressive.
  • The child accidentally hurt the dog, perhaps by pulling on its hair.
  • The dog has little patience due to its age. Dogs' attitudes can change significantly as they get older.
  • The child is moving quickly -- riding a bike or running, for instance -- and the dog's predator/prey instincts kicked in.
  • The dog has gotten sick or injured and is more prone to lashing out at any minor threat.
  • The dog is just trying to play with the child and does not realize that it is biting too hard.

When is your employer required to pay you overtime in California?

California workers have many rights. This generally includes the right to overtime pay if they cross certain thresholds in the amount of time they work. Under California overtime laws, there are three main such thresholds. We’ll now go over them.

The first is 40 hours of work a week. Employers are typically required to pay workers overtime for any amount of time worked over this threshold.

Does workers’ compensation cover back pain?

Back pain can surface as a low, dull ache throughout the day. It can also cause spikes of pain when standing, bending, lifting or turning. You may wonder if your back pain is covered under workers’ compensation. The issue is that back pain is not easily identifiable or curable. It can take x-rays, physical therapy and even surgery to remedy. Even then, you may be managing residual pain for years to come without knowing what caused the injury.

What is the cause of your pain?

How is a major labor shortage affecting the trucking industry?

The trucking industry is facing a significant labor shortage around the country. Recruiters are desperately attempting to attract new workers with low job requirements and high wages, however, new hires are barely putting a dent in the widening hole of the labor force. Not only is the industry having a hard time recruiting new workers, it cannot hold onto existing ones. There is a 94 percent turnover in the trucking industry.

The industry is having a hard time finding new workers while holding onto existing ones because being a trucker can be lonely and dangerous. Most truckers must spend long stretches away from their families. Worse yet, truckers have some of the most dangerous jobs in America. They are vulnerable to serious motor vehicle accidents. According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 1,000 truckers died in accidents in 2016. This means that being a commercial truck driver is eight times deadlier than being a police officer.

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