Carlin & Buchsbaum, LLP
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Workers' compensation for wildfire smoke inhalation

In California, an important concern for certain types of workers is smoke inhalation due to wildfires and poor air quality. If a person becomes will due to his or her job, it could be legitimate grounds to pursue workers' compensation benefits. While employers can take certain steps to keep workers' reasonably safe, it is possible that a worker could deal with respiratory issues as a result of exposure. In this specific type of situation, a person can move forward with a claim.

When air quality issues threaten the safety of workers, there are certain things employers can do. One of the most important steps is to remain vigilant and continue checking the Air Quality Index. When the number is over 151, it means there are particles in the air that can be dangerous. Employers have to communicate this risk to their employees.

At this point, employers have to consider modifications to their jobs or work requirements for outdoor projects. This may mean providing respiratory safety equipment or providing vehicles where workers can breathe clean air. They may also have to make direct changes to their job requirements when AQI numbers are elevated. 

Poor air quality can affect a worker in various ways. It can cause a person to become sick, and it can significantly harm a person who has a pre-existing medical condition. While California employers can and should do certain things to keep workers safe, they cannot stand in the way when a sick employee needs to seek workers' compensation benefits. Through a claim, a person can get help with medical bills and other needs related to the illness.

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