San Bernardino Workers' Compensation Law Blog

What occupational hazards do nurses face?

If you count yourself among the thousands of people across California who currently earn an income as a nurse, you may understand all too well that, while rewarding, nursing can be an inherently dangerous, difficult occupation. Nurses typically report higher illness and injury rates than professionals across many other industries, and the long hours and often highly emotional nature of the job can only further compound existing difficulties.

Per the U.S. Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health, many nurses who develop illness or suffer injury while on the job experience similar health issues, and that many of those issues and hardships result from similar circumstances. Chronic pain, for example, is among the most common complaints lodged by today’s nurses, many of whom experience pains in their lower backs, knees and upper extremities. Often, persistent pain occurs because nurses handle heavy lifting duties, which might include moving immobile patients, heavy beds, medical equipment or what have you.

Work-related back injuries might be preventable

Many jobs are hard on the back. These include any career that involves standing or sitting for prolonged periods, those that deal with heavy lifting and ones that require bending over. It is hard for many workers to accept the toll that the job is taking on them, but doing so increases their safety.

There are two primary categories of back injuries at work. One of these is an injury that happens as the result of an accident. The other is due to cumulative trauma from job duties. No matter what job you are doing, your employer should make sure you have the tools to protect your back. Here are some important points to know.

Workplace accidents - what can I do about them?

California employees do not get up in the morning expecting to find themselves caught up in a workplace accident later in the day. In fact, most of you likely feel fairly safe at work. Even construction workers, who have one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, can often get so used to the risk it does not feel quite so risky anymore. 

That could be part of the problem, though. Sometimes you might find yourself lulled into a place of comfort simply because you have always been comfortable. If you have not seen workplace accidents up close and never been involved in one, you might feel like they happen in other places to other people.

Crisis on construction sites

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Building houses and high-rises in California and around the world is dangerous work. This fact is not surprising given all the heavy equipment builders operate, the heights they climb and the other risky duties their work entails.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, construction workers' accidents caused 21.1 percent of private industry fatalities in 2016: "one in five worker deaths [in 2016] were in construction." Besides the previously mentioned contributors, what else lends to this startling statistic?

What is placental abruption?

If you are an expectant mom in California, your growing baby likely is almost always on your mind. You worry about his or her health, safety and welfare, and you do everything you possibly can to make sure that (s)he – and you – have everything you need to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. During your third trimester, one of the things you should watch for is any sign of placental abruption.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, placental abruption is a reasonably rare occurrence, but when it happens, both you and your baby face grave danger. As you know, (s)he receives both oxygen and nutrients via the placenta, and if it separates from your uterine wall, the definition of placental abruption, his or her supply of both becomes compromised. It also results in your receiving internal injuries.

Complications associated with cesarean sections

Nowadays, more than one out of every four women who give birth across California and the United States do so through a cesarean section. In some cases, patients have C-sections because they experience emergency circumstances during the birthing process. In others, patients deliver through this method because they have done so before, and physicians typically encourage them to do so with any subsequent children they have. C-section deliveries are more dangerous than vaginal deliveries, however, and they have the potential to endanger both mother and child. At Kampf, Schiavone & Associates, we recognize the risks that come with having babies through C-sections, and we have helped many families who experienced hardship during or after delivery seek recourse.

Per the American Pregnancy Association, babies delivered via C-section are more likely to have breathing or respiratory issues than babies delivered vaginally. Your delivering physician may also cut or nick the baby during the birthing process while performing your procedure. Your C-section baby may also have a lower APGAR score than he or she would otherwise immediately after birth, with babies born via C-section twice as likely to have low APGAR scores than babies born vaginally.

Does domestic violence contribute to traumatic brain injury?

It is easy to think of brain injuries affecting football players and victims of car accidents, but have you ever considered connections between domestic violence and head trauma? It is not hard to imagine, is it? Spouses get into an argument that escalates into punches, and next thing you know, someone is on the way to a California emergency room.

This scenario is quite realistic, and the National Women's Health Network finds especially disturbing the impact on women who are in similar situations. The NWHN says traumatic brain injury connected to domestic violence "may affect up to 20 million women, six percent of the population."

Bouncing back from an injury at work

California worksites are supposed to be safe. OSHA works overtime to make sure of this, and state regulations governing safety are stronger here than they are in many other places in the USA. Still, we often see people come into our offices at Kampf, Schiavone & Associates with debilitating injuries sustained during work on a construction site.

Our workers' compensation practice deals with some of the toughest issues in injury and workers' comp law, including:

  • Impact on future earnings
  • Defective tools and equipment
  • Electrical accidents and injuries
  • Crane accidents
  • Falls

Is chronic pain a workplace injury?

If you are like many people in the California workforce, then you have probably given your employer some of the best years of your life. For this, it is reasonable for you to expect compensation and consideration if you happen to become injured. However, it is an unfortunate fact that many employers in the state do not see it as their responsibility to assume treatment costs for chronic conditions that developed over the course of a long-term employee's tenure with a company.

When it comes to negotiations and courtroom proceedings, many employers use the same basis for their arguments. In terms of chronic injuries, especially those that are difficult to diagnose, the main argument on behalf of the defense would be simply that your employer is not responsible for the condition.

The worst possible consequences of misdiagnosis

California has one of the highest standards for medical care in the United States. However, that does not mean that doctors in the state are infallible. In fact, studies exist suggesting that medical professionals could be responsible for far more harm than anyone would like to believe.

When one thinks about medical malpractice, it is likely that surgical mistakes, flagrant errors or omissions would come to mind. However, a simple missed guess when made irresponsibly has the potential for drastic and deleterious effect on the life of a patient, potentially even leading to death.

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