Tarzana, California and its surrounding counties can fall victim to the adverse effects of California wildfires regularly. Whether they come into direct contact with these fires or not, employees working in this area can suffer from inhalation injuries if they are expected to work under unsafe air conditions.
Luckily, any employee who suffers from these kinds of conditions has the opportunity to pursue workers’ compensation for their losses.
Identifying an Inhalation Injury
Firefighters and employees who work closely with high-heat materials may find themselves contending with inhalation injuries that impact their ability to breathe. These injuries fall into two categories:
- Acute Exposure – if a person is exposed to the toxic chemicals in smoke for between thirty minutes to a day, they may suffer from acute exposure and similarly severe respiratory consequences. These can include difficulty breathing and a stubborn cough. However, these symptoms should clear up after a short period of time.
- Chronic Exposure – if a person finds that they have been exposed to the toxic chemicals in smoke for an extended period of time while at work, then they may end up dealing with long-term health problems, including the development of lung cancer and the overall reduced functionality of their lungs.
California Law and Inhalation Injuries
In light of worsening wildfires in California, the state’s OSHA branch recently established a new set of statutes detailing certain employees’ rights when faced with these unrelenting conditions. These statutes note that:
- Employees and employers are required to monitor the air quality index in their area to ensure that the environment, even if it is actively dangerous, will not compromise the lung health of those attending parties. More specifically, employees cannot work in areas where air particulate matter is higher than PM 2.5.
- Employers must provide employees with N95 respirators or more effective forms of equipment when asking those employees to expose themselves to dangerous, smokey conditions.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation after an Inhalation Injury
Employers who fail to comply with the statutes mentioned above, or otherwise endanger their employees, open themselves to workers’ compensation suits. Employees who have difficulty breathing or performing day-to-day tasks after exposure to smoke, either in the short-term or long-term, may reach out to California’s OSHA branch or other applicable bodies to file for this kind of compensation.
Workers’ compensation for inhalation injuries can see the hindered employee receive damages for:
- Medical emergencies related to the hindered party’s conditions.
- Future treatments needed to ensure a full recovery.
- Lost opportunity for wages.
- Wrongful death.
California is a no-fault state. This means that employees who file for workers’ compensation will not have to prove that their employer, specifically, was responsible for their condition.
Schedule a Case Consultation with Area Experts
Firefighters and employees in similar positions do a great service to their communities. If you, as one of these parties, have suffered an inhalation injury as a result of your work, you have the right under California law to pursue compensation for your losses.
To start building a case against the party you believe to be liable for your losses, you can reach out for a free case consultation.