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Los Angeles Employer Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Oil refinery faces OSHA investigation over injury reporting

A business is required to keep accurate records of workplace injuries. Failure to do so can result in safety violations and citations from regulating agencies in California. One oil refinery in another state may be facing this challenge with regard to a pending OSHA investigation. 

The employer, Marathon Petroleum Corp, had purchased a large refinery from PB Plc, and is now facing scrutiny from workers, union representatives and OSHA over concerns regarding Marathon's reporting practices for workplace injuries and accidents. A complaint filed with the Labor Department accuses the company of misrepresenting workplace illnesses and injuries in its records. Some workers have said that the complaint is connected to broader concerns regarding Marathon possibly rolling back voluntary safety practices which had been implemented by BP.

Three instances of employee fraud in California

Authorities charged three California workers with insurance fraud for claiming that workplace injuries were preventing them from returning to work. This includes a roofer, housekeeper and lab worker. While all three claimed debilitating injuries, there are allegations that all three engaged in physical activity going beyond their restrictions. At the same time, all three claimed thousands of dollars in benefits from insurers.

There were observations of all three workers engaging in activity inconsistent with the injuries they reported. In the case of the housekeeper, she was shopping and caring a small child after claiming she could not walk or drive. In the cases of the two other workers, they were earning income since the claimed injuries occurred. One of the workers claimed to be terrified of ladders while also too injured to work. However, videotaped evidence showed him spending two hours climbing up and down from a roof.

“Injured worker” videotaped playing golf

While work-related injury reports are generally legitimate, occasionally employees will attempt to take advantage of benefits they do not deserve. Injuries in such incidents may be exaggerated or unrelated to job-related tasks.

One particular example occurring at a car dealership sticks out. An employee claimed injuries after a vehicle struck him while he was on the job. It appears his injuries were not too severe, however. The worker apparently missed a doctor’s appointment and a video showed him playing golf without any signs of injury. Both a physical therapist and orthopedic doctor who treated the employee stated his activities were not consistent with the kinds of injuries he claimed.

Postal worker convicted of employee fraud

A decision to commit fraud is never a good idea. It can lead to serious legal problems in California, including time behind bars. A former U.S. Postal Service worker was recently convicted in an employee fraud case revolving around workers' compensation benefits.

The former postal employee will now be spending 18 months in prison after she was found guilty of committing workers' compensation fraud. Along with the prison sentence, the court also ordered the woman to pay back more than $240,000 in benefits she received from workers' compensation insurance and nutritional assistance programs. The woman pleaded guilty to the fraud charges in 2014 but was just recently sentenced at the end of March.

OSHA investigation initiated following construction accident

Work safety authorities have the ability to levy large monetary fines against an employer if they believe that work safety violations have been committed. Regulators are particularly concerned when a serious or fatal workplace accident occurs. When somebody dies in a workplace incident in California, an OSHA investigation will be initiated.

One employer is now facing an investigation by OSHA following a recent fatal construction accident in another state. Reportedly, one worker died, and three others were injured at the site located at a local school. The fatal victim was working on a lift at a structure at the site when the structure suddenly collapsed. Investigators have yet to determine exactly why the structure collapsed into a pile of rubble. As of now, no violations have been announced in reports released to the public by work safety officials, though investigations typically take up to six months.

Injured worker claim may result from recent construction accident

There are risks at just about any workplace. However, construction sites tend to have more potential for serious injuries than other types of work environments in California. This can be a problem for employers of construction workers because a serious work injury can result in an injured worker claim or even an OSHA investigation.

This may be the result of a recent construction site accident in another state that left three people dead and one person seriously injured. The incident happened late one morning in late March when scaffolding collapsed at a construction site at a high-rise building. Apparently, the workers were in the middle of lowering and removing a mast climber. The scaffolding collapsed just before 11 a.m., according to reports released to the public.

Temporary worker violations can result in OSHA investigation

All workers should be provided ample protection from harm at the workplace. This also includes temporary workers who may be contracted from a staffing agency in California. Accordingly, it is important for employers and staffing agencies to understand their legal obligations in work safety compliance for temporary workers. This may help to prevent a workplace accident or in handling an OSHA investigation after an incident.

OSHA announced in April 2013 that it was planning on taking action to further protect temporary workers. The federal agency has since published three sets of guidelines. These documents further clarified the legal duties of maintaining a safe work environment when a host employer and a staffing agency are joint employers.

Worker arrested on employee fraud charges

It is important for workers to have some type of protection in the case of an unexpected on-the-job accident. This is why most employees who are injured in a workplace accident will typically have the opportunity to apply for benefits via workers' compensation in California. However, there are some workers who are not completely honest when applying for compensation benefits. This can result in employee fraud charges being pursued against a worker.

This is what one worker is now facing after he was recently arrested for fraudulently collecting benefits via workers' compensation. The 40-year-old man was an employee of the state's child services agency when he filed for benefits, claiming he was injured while working on the job. The man reported that the workplace injury occurred in May 2014. He claimed that the injury suffered prevented him from being able to work.

Employers should watch out for employee fraud in California

It is good for employers to be vigilant in all aspects of their business. Not only does this include watching profit margins and costs, it also means being vigilant when it comes to workplace safety in California. This can help to avoid future workers' compensation claims. However, if an employee files for benefits, the employer should also be vigilant in detecting employee fraud.

This is what one employer may want to consider doing if an employee decides to file for benefits following a recent construction accident. The incident happened one afternoon in mid-March and resulted in one worker being transported to a nearby medical facility for treatment. The extent of the man's injuries have yet to be made public. The accident was reported to authorities at approximately 3:02 p.m.

Ignoring operating procedures can result in OSHA investigation

It is important for a company to put operating procedures in place in order for workers to avoid confusion and for the business to run efficiently. At California facilities utilizing heavy machinery, this is particularly important in order to maintain workplace safety. Failure to do so can cause a worker to be injured or even killed, which could result in an OSHA investigation.

It looks like one out-of-state employer may be facing this type of situation following a recent accident one morning in mid-March. Apparently, a worker had failed to follow workplace procedures for the Blendbox, which is a large machine that feeds plastic via a conveyor belt. The machine has a roller with hooks. For some reason, the worker ended up climbing onto the roller bar, which resulted in him being dragged through the Blendbox.

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