JANITORS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A large part of the labor market is the occupation of Professional Cleaners.  They are also referred to as Commercial Janitors.  The Janitorial Occupation is susceptible for a variety of work injuries and occupational illnesses. Janitorial work presents unique risks for work injuries for those within the field.

This article will discuss Janitors, Janitorial Tasks, Industrial injuries and Occupational Illnesses that are prevalent within the Occupation, and the barriers that Janitors have with respect to filing claims.

What are Janitors?

Janitors perform a variety of maintenance tasks a variety of facilities. They use a multitude of tools and chemicals to perform their jobs.  They can engage in a large variety of repetitive physical tasks, ie. sweeping or mopping.

Janitors can work at institutions such as schools, hospitals, parks, and prisons.

Janitors can work in commercial buildings such as shopping malls, and they can work in residential properties.

What Are Janitor’s Risks of Industrial Injury?

Each type of facility can present unique risks of work injury for Janitors.

For example, hospitals and medical facilities can have significant amounts of potentially infectious biological material present.  Schools can have issues relating to mold exposure.

Further, the physical activities of being a Janitor may cause work injury.

What Types of Injuries Do Janitors Sustain?

There are a variety of work-related orthopedic injuries. These injuries relate, in part, due to the fact that “Janitorial work is repetitive and requires bending, twisting, and other motions that can lead to or exacerbate musculoskeletal disorders, such as arthritis” Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data as an Occupational Health Profile Washington State Janitors, 2011 to 2017 Anderson, Naomi J. MPH; Marcum, Jennifer L. DrPH Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 9 – p 747-753 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001652

Also, Janitors may sustain respiratory injuries relating to the cleaning chemicals that they use.  Further, they may sustain dermatological injuries due to wet work.

What Are the Injury Rates for Janitors?

In a Washington State Study, it was noted that “[t]he prevalence of self-reported work-related injuries in the past year was higher than that of all others …. Analyses of WC data indicate that work-related injury risk may be higher for the industry group containing Janitors than other industries2 overall and in several injury types, with women at particularly high risk.” Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data as an Occupational Health Profile Washington State Janitors, 2011 to 2017 Anderson, Naomi J. MPH; Marcum, Jennifer L. DrPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 9 – p 747-753 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001652

Thus, the workers’ compensation industry both has a concern over janitorial injuries as well as an understanding that work injuries are common.  Thus, Risk Management handling Janitorial claims will work hard to manage these claims.  This can be done with respect to reporting requirements.  It can also be done with respect to return to work issues which can include modified work.

Do Janitors Have Emotional Issues?

Yes. Janitors, in the study, reported “being diagnosed with a depressive disorder ..significantly higher and has been reported previously.    Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data as an Occupational Health Profile Washington State Janitors, 2011 to 2017 Anderson, Naomi J. MPH; Marcum, Jennifer L. DrPH Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 9 – p 747-753 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001652

While this finding did not address work-relatedness, it is possible that the depressive disorder may be in party work-related in nature and give rise to a workers’ compensation claim.

Can Shift Work Impact Janitors?

Yes. Shiftwork has been connected to various medical conditions.

Shiftwork can cause issues of inadequate sleep.  Inadequate sleep can lead to other health issues.

Do Janitors Have Barriers in Filing Workers’ Compensation Claims?

Yes. There is some concern as to whether all janitor work injury claims are filed.  As noted in the study, “[l]ow-wage, immigrant, and/or Hispanic worker populations, including many Janitors, may also not be aware of the WC system (or how to navigate the system, if they lack internet access) or of their right to seek medical care for an occupational injury or illness. Janitors may also face barriers to reporting an injury to their employer, such as fear of consequences.    Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data as an Occupational Health Profile Washington State Janitors, 2011 to 2017 Anderson, Naomi J. MPH; Marcum, Jennifer L. DrPH Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2019 – Volume 61 – Issue 9 – p 747-753 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001652

If a Janitor is concerned about their employment situation if they claim a work injury, it is important for them to seek legal counsel to discuss their concerns to make a determination as to whether they should file the claim.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

KNEE AND HIP INJURIES, OSTEOARTHRITIS, AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES AS RISK FACTORS FOR WORK INJURIES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

There is no requirement that the causes of a work injury has to be 100 percent industrial.

There are some medical conditions that can have a work-related component to them.  In other words, they are only partially caused by job duties.   Osteoarthritis (OA) can be that type of industrial injury.  OA is a common form of arthritis that can impact a variety of parts of the body.  The parts of the body OA can impact includes the knees.

This article will discuss OA , who Treats OA,  and how OA can be work-related.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Per the CDC, “Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees.”

“With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time. OA can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. In some cases,  it also causes reduced function and disability; some people are no longer able to do daily tasks or work.”

Note:  The term degenerative joint disease is a term that is frequently used.   It is commonly abbreviated to DJD.

What Are the Symptoms of OA?

Symptoms of OA can include pain or aching, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and swelling. CDC.

Who Treats OA, and What Treatments are Available?

OA is an interesting medical condition in that there are two medical specialties that can address the condition.   The two types of doctors are Orthopedists and Rheumatologists.

Orthopedists focus on the bones and the joints.   They can prescribe medications and perform operations.

Rheumatologists focus on internal medicine matters.  They can prescribe medications and prescribe non-surgical treatments.

How Is OA Work-Related?

OA is work-related with respect to some activities.   According to one study,  A synthesis of 69 studies from 23 countries yielded strong and moderate evidence for lifting, cumulative physical loads, full‐body vibration, and kneeling/squatting/bending as increasing the risks of developing osteoarthritis (OA) in men and women.”  Strong and moderate evidence existed for no increased risk of OA related to sitting, standing and walking (hip and knee OA), lifting and carrying (knee OA), climbing ladders (knee OA), [and] driving (knee OA.)” Men and Women’s Occupational Activities and the Risk of Developing Osteoarthritis of the Knee, Hip, or Hands: A Systemic Review and Recommendations for Further Research, Monique A.M. Gignac Emma Irvin Kim Cullen Dwayne Van Eerd Dorcas E Beaton Quenby Mahood Chris McLeod Catherine L. Backman 14 February 2019, https://doi.org/10.1002/acr.23855

Note: thus, there are activities that can increase the risk of OA and other activities which are not a causative risk factor.  Thus, an analysis of one’s work activities is important when considering to file a claim.

What is the Legal Theory for Industrial Causation?

An Injured Worker must prove that their work activities contributed to the development of the disease. South Coast Framing, Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2015) 61 Cal.4th 291 [188 Cal.Rptr.3d 46, 349 P.3d 141].)

What is the Analysis?

The fact that one engages in certain injurious activities does not guarantee a valid claim.  A medical opinion is required. Such a medical opinion should include a medical examination, testing, review of medical records, review of one’s past medical history, and an analysis of the physical activities the worker engaged in at work. .

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

AGE, PHYSICAL DEMANDING JOBS AND MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS: OLDER WORKERS AT RISK FOR WORK INJURIES AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Labor Market in the United States is aging. As a result, Older Workers are performing a large variety of task within the Open Labor Market. Older Workers performing more tasks that make them at risk for work injuries. This is the case with respect to musculoskeletal injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries are commonly known as orthopedics injuries which include medical conditions with respect to the spine, the upper and the lower extremities. A study was done with respect and there were some findings made.

This article will discuss Older Workers, injury rates for Older Workers, and laws which impact Older Workers’ Workers’ Compensation Claims.

Does Age Matter When Looking at the Risk of Work Injuries?

Age alone is not the issue. The type of labor is what is of import. In the labor market, there are jobs with minimal physical demands. There are other jobs which involve greater physical demands. Thus, some Older Workers perform light duty jobs such as receptionists or greeters. Other Older Workers perform more arduous jobs such as warehouse worker or construction worker.

The study, of interest, focused on jobs with physical demands.

Old Age combined with greater physical demands were relevant with respect to work injuries. See P. M. Smith, J. Berecki-Gisolf, Age, occupational demands and the risk of serious work injury, Occupational Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 8, December 2014, Pages 571–576, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqu125

It was found when the occupational [physical] demands were greater there was an increase of risk of injury. Further, “[t]he relationship between age and claim-risk was strongest when occupational demands were highest.” P. M. Smith, J. Berecki-Gisolf, Age, occupational demands and the risk of serious work injury, Occupational Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 8, December 2014, Pages 571–576, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqu125

Is the Increase Risk Associated only with Musculoskeletal Injuries?

It was found that “Older age was associated with a higher risk of work injury claims for both musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions,” P. M. Smith, J. Berecki-Gisolf, Age, occupational demands and the risk of serious work injury, Occupational Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 8, December 2014, Pages 571–576, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqu125

Is there a Difference Between Musculoskeletal vs. Non-Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Yes. “with a slightly stronger relationship observed for occupational physical demands and risk of musculoskeletal, compared with non-musculoskeletal, conditions.” P. M. Smith, J. Berecki-Gisolf, Age, occupational demands and the risk of serious work injury, Occupational Medicine, Volume 64, Issue 8, December 2014, Pages 571–576, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqu125

Are There any Laws or Rules in Workers’ Compensation that Assist Older Workers?

Yes. Age is factored as part of the Permanent Disability Rating Formula.
Per the Schedule for Rating Permanent Disabilities, California Workers’ Compensation Law provides for an age adjustment which provides for an increase in permanent disability for ages 42 and older. It also scales up with age and tops out at age 62. The age used in this assessment is the age on the date of injury. There is a table upon which you obtain the figures. It is on Pages 6-1-6-5. See SCHEDULE FOR RATING PERMANENT DISABILITIES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE LABOR CODE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA (2005)

Are There Any Rules that Do Not Assist Injured Workers?

Yes. There is a legal issue of apportionment. Apportionment is a tool allowed to reduce an Injured Workers’ Award.

Labor Code Section 4663, provides that “[a] physician shall make an apportionment determination by finding what approximate percentage of the permanent disability was caused by the direct result of injury arising out of and occurring in the course of employment and what approximate percentage of the permanent disability was caused by other factors both before and subsequent to the industrial injury, including prior industrial injuries. See Escobedo v. Marshalls, CNA Ins. Co., 70 Cal. Comp. Cases 604, 2005 Cal. Wrk. Comp. LEXIS 71 (W.C.A.B. April 19, 2005). In Escobedo, the board indicated that apportionment of permanent disability can be made based on the preexisting arthritis in applicant’s knees was found acceptable. Note: Older Employees are more likely to have pre-existing arthritic processes which could allow for apportionment to be found.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

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