June is for summer, sunshine, and safety

June 2, 2021 | 11:14 am


With June comes summer, sun, and, we hope, safety.

June is National Safety Month, an opportunity to help prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths at work, on the roads, and in our homes and communities. With the United States is seeing the highest number of workplace deaths since 2007 – more than 5,000 fatal workplace injuries in 2019 – this observance is more important than ever. Additionally, more than 42,000 people estimated to have died on the roads in 2020, the highest number of motor vehicle deaths since 2007, according to National Safety Council.

“Dangerous circumstances can present themselves everywhere during the summer days,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “It’s important for each of us to do our part to keep ourselves, our neighbors, and our loved ones as safe as possible in June for National Safety Month, and beyond.”

National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health and the National Safety Council highlights weekly work-focused themes of emergency preparedness, wellness, falls and driving. You can find more information on these themes below, with some tips courtesy of Chain | Cohn | Stiles:

 

Emergency Preparedness

The message here is, “prevent incidents before they start.” Emergency situations can happen at any time, making it a priority to be prepared for the unexpected before it happens.

  • Research and prepare for natural disasters that may occur, like an earthquake.
  • Create an emergency kit for both your home and car.
  • Create a home emergency plan with your family and learn how to shut off your utilities.
  • Be a good participant in emergency drills at work and school by following instructions and paying attention to lessons learned.
  • Store important phone numbers, including those of family members, with other important documents in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box.
  • Learn first aid and CPR for children and adults.
  • Stock your emergency kits.

In the workplace, emergency situations can happen at any time including natural disasters, fires, active shooter situations or chemical or gas releases. Actively participate in workplace drills.

 

Wellness

As the pandemic continues, employers play an important role in expanding operations and returning remote workers to physical workspaces, building trust around vaccines, supporting mental health and much more.

Additionally, getting enough sleep is important to do your job safely. Sleep plays a more vital role in ensuring the safety and health of workers and the people they serve. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep every day is key.

High stress levels, especially for prolonged periods of time, can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Work-related stress can lead to risk of injury and depression, which contributes to absenteeism, presenteeism (workers going to work when they are sick), disability, and unemployment. Providing training for supervisors on approaches to reducing stressful working conditions can improve employee health, reduce turnover, and increase employee retention.

 

Falls

Falls remain a persistent but preventable problem in the workplace. In fact, falls are the No. 1 cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry.

The highest number of nonfatal fall injuries continue to be associated with the health services and the wholesale and retail industries. Overall falls are the third leading cause of unintentional-injury-related deaths for all ages and the No. 1 cause of death for those 65 and older, according to Injury Facts.

 

Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. All workers are at risk of crashes, whether driving light or heavy vehicles, or whether driving is a main or incidental job duty. Up to 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes involve human error. There are simple actions you can take to stay safe while driving:

  • Buckle up every trip. It only takes a second to save a life.
  • Do not drive drowsy. Stop and take breaks as needed.
  • Focus on driving and stay alert. Other drivers on the road may be impaired, fatigued or distracted.
  • Avoid impaired driving, whether by alcohol, lack of sleep or drugs, including over the counter and prescription medication.
  • Avoid cell phone distracted driving, including hands-free.
  • Make sure all occupants are properly secured in age-appropriate restraints.
  • Never leave a child alone in a car and always keep your car locked when not in use.
  • Regularly check your vehicle for recalls at CheckToProtect.org and stay up to date on the safety features in your car by visiting MyCarDoesWhat.org.
  • Educate teens and all inexperienced drivers about the safety features present in the vehicle and how they work.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

New year, new state laws face California drivers, workers, families

January 6, 2021 | 5:00 am


The New Year means new rules for Californians, including for drivers.

New state laws for 2021 include those aiming to crack down even more on distracted driving, protecting crews working on the side of the road, and preventing those who break into a car to rescue a child from facing charges, among others. Read on to learn more about these new laws.

License Points for Distracted Driving (AB 47): Drivers who violate the hands-free law by using a handheld cell phone while driving for a second time within 36 months will have a point added to their driver’s record. It is currently punishable by a fine. This applies to the violations of talking or texting while driving (except for hands-free use) and to any use of these devices while driving by a person under 18 years of age. (Begins July 1)

“Move Over, Slow Down” Amendments (AB 2285): Drivers coming up on a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights — applying to local streets and road now, and not just freeways — will be required to move to another lane if possible or slow to a reasonable speed. It also applies to tow trucks and Caltrans vehicles. This extends the state’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law that went into effect in 2020, which allows authorized emergency vehicles to use a “Hi-Lo” warning sound, different from a siren, to let the public know they need to evacuate an area in an emergency. Learn more about work zone safety awareness at bit.ly/workzoneaware. (Begins Jan. 1)

Unattended Children in Motor Vehicles (AB 2717): A person damages a vehicle while rescuing a child from a vehicle from heat, cold, lack of ventilation or other dangers will be exempt from civil or criminal liability or trespassing. The law only applies if the child is 6 years old or younger under dangerous conditions “that reasonably could cause suffering, disability, or death.” The steps that should be taken include calling 911, ensuring the vehicle is locked and there is no other way to enter the car without forced entry, and having a “good faith belief” that rescuing the child is necessary due to imminent potential harm. (Begins Jan. 1)

Real ID Deadline (AB 1480): The deadline to get a Real ID driver’s license or state ID card is Oct. 1, 2021, according to the California DMV. If you want to continue using your driver’s license or ID card to “board domestic flights within the U.S.” and “enter secure federal facilities,” it is recommended that you apply. People must complete the online application and bring required documents before visiting a field office.

 

OTHER NON-VEHICLE LAWS FOR 2021

Minimum Wage : As part of California’s continued incremental raising of the minimum wage, it will go up to $14 per hour on Jan. 1 for employers with 26 or more employees. Businesses with 25 or fewer employers must increase minimum wage to $13 per hour. Minimum wage may be higher where you live already based on local laws.

Use of Force: The law requires law enforcement policies to require officers to immediately report potential excessive force, and to intercede when present and observing an officer using excessive force. The bill would also prohibit retaliation against officers who report violations of law or regulation of another officer to a supervisor. Another law (AB 1196) prohibits police from using chokeholds and carotid holds after a number of high-profile deaths in police custody around the nation. Learn more about Kern County’s ongoing issue with excessive force at bit.ly/kernprotests.

Sheriff Oversight: This law authorizes counties to establish sheriff oversight boards and an office of inspector general and empowers them to issue subpoenas “when deemed necessary to investigate a matter within their jurisdiction.” Click here to learn more about the settlement between the California Department of Justice and Kern County Sheriff’s Office after an investigation into civil rights violations and excessive force allegations, some of which stem from Chain | Cohn | Stiles cases.

Employment Safety (AB 685): Employers must inform employees and take measures if COVID-19 exposure occurs. The employer will be required to provide written notice of exposure to employees on the worksite premises, as well as provide information about COVID-related benefits to exposed workers. The employer must also report the exposure to their local public health agency within 48 hours. Learn more about worker safety issues, and benefits available to workers who contract COVID-19 at work, by clicking here.

Family and Medical Leave (SB 1383): People who directly employ five or more employees will be required to provide unpaid family and medical leave to those who qualify. It also will allow employees to take protected leave to care for an expanded set of family members.

Prisoner Gender Identity: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will be required by law to ask all inmates for their gender identity, and to recognize and address inmates by their gender pronoun in all communications. The law also stipulates that transgender inmates must be housed at a facility matching their gender identity, unless the department can provide “a specific and articulable basis” for denying that housing due to security or management concerns. Under the law, transgender, non-binary and intersex inmates must be searched by an officer whose gender identity matches that of the inmate, or by an officer whose gender matches the designation of the facility housing the inmate if the inmate’s gender identity cannot be determined.

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