California is the third-largest state in the U.S., so it’s no surprise that a large number of workplace injuries occur each year. In fact, more than 400,000 non-fatal occupational injuries occur annually in the state.
Some jobs naturally come with more dangers than others, particularly those in warehouse and other environments that involve strenuous activity. Amazon’s Fresno warehouse has recently come under fire for a worker-injury rate that far surpasses both the statewide and national warehouse industry averages. The Fresno warehouse, which employs more than 2,500 people, reported about 12 injuries per 100 workers in 2018 – three times the national average and more than double the state average.
OSHA reported that the most common injuries at the Amazon Fresno warehouse include:
- Sprains/strains to the back, wrist, shoulder, and ankles (often due to repetitive motion),
- Smash injuries, such as crushed toes, and
- Skin irritations.
Unfortunately, the staggering number of injury cases might be even higher than reported. The Fresno Bee noted that many Amazon warehouse workers in Fresno were discouraged by their supervisors from filing formal injury reports. Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez is calling on the city to find out why so many injuries happen at this particular location.
All workers in America have certain basic rights. To protect workers from suffering preventable injuries on the job, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA, outlines employees’ health and safety rights. For example, employers must have an effective injury and illness prevention program with training and instruction on safe work practices and an effective communication system. Employees have the right to refuse hazardous work, and state law prohibits businesses from retaliating against workers who exercise their right to a safe and healthful workplace.
Workplace safety and health hazard complaints can be confidentially filed with Cal/OSHA.
Workers Compensation Claims vs. Third-party Lawsuits
People who are hurt while working are often able to recover workers compensation benefits if the employer or work environment caused the injuries. Workers compensation is typically a no-fault system, which means an injured employee does not need to prove that someone else on the site was negligent and caused the injury. To collect benefits, the employee must have been injured during the course and scope of his/her employment.
While CaseyGerry does not handle legal matters involving workers compensation claims, our firm is able to put employees in touch with other law firms that may be able to help.
It’s not always immediately clear who caused a person’s injuries in a warehouse environment like Amazon. California law allows injured workers to pursue third-party personal injury claims – meaning claims against someone besides their employer who acted negligently – even if the employer was partially at fault for the injuries. So, it’s helpful to speak with an experienced attorney about your rights if you get hurt on the job.
CaseyGerry has helped many people who were hurt while working. In one case, CaseyGerry successfully represented a local Home Depot employee who was severely injured by an electric forklift used to pick up merchandise off shelves. In another case, our firm obtained a verdict on behalf of an equipment mechanic from San Diego who was injured when he fell from a drill deck with an uneven surface and no guard rail.
If you suffered injuries while working, we can explain how California law applies to your situation. Feel free to call CaseyGerry at (619) 238-1811 for a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation.