California workers face dangers on the job that are even more pronounced during COVID-19 and a spreading pandemic. While normal OSHA workplace safety rules apply, there is a concern that these may not be enough for workers to remain healthy and well on the job right now. OSHA budgets and enforcement have been slashed, perhaps causing extra danger for employees.
Ironically enough, the OSHA regulatory regime could take some lessons from an industry that the public perceives as dangerous. In recent years, after some high-profile accidents, the coal industry has actually become one of the safer blue-collar jobs in the country. This is due to stepped-up regulations that mean more inspectors for each coal worker. Job-related deaths have been reduced to 24 in 2019.
One provision of coal mining regulations that provides the most protection to workers is an employee’s ability to refuse work if they believe that it is unsafe. Regular OSHA rules only allow an employee to refuse an assignment if they believe that it presents a danger of death or serious injury. With regard to COVID-19, this may not be a strong enough protection to allow the employee to remain home if they are worried about being infected without fear of repercussion.
When a person is injured in a workplace accident or is otherwise hurt on the job, they may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. They can receive benefits and compensation if they are able to prove that they were hurt on the job. They may want to contact a workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about how they can file their claim and the process they would need to follow to obtain payment.