Medical Consultation to Cal/OSHA to Protect Workers
Background and Purpose
Whenever a person dies on the job, or if a worker claims that an injury or illness was caused by a hazard on the job, Cal/OSHA must determine whether the incident, injury or illness is actually work-related. This not only helps safeguard workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace; it also provides valuable information that helps employers implement effective health and safety programs and increases our understanding of occupational health and safety problems.
Sometimes it is not that easy to tell if an incident, injury or illness was caused by a person’s work. For example, many symptoms of overexposure to chemicals and other workplace hazards can also be caused by non-work-related illnesses and health problems. The Hazard Evaluation System and Information System (HESIS) in OHB has physicians who work with Cal/OSHA to evaluate workers’ complaints of illness and injury and employers’ reports of worker fatalities and serious illnesses. HESIS provides medical opinions to Cal/OSHA about the incidents and develops prevention-based recommendations to assist employers in protecting the health and safety of their workers.
Over the years, HESIS has assisted Cal/OSHA in evaluating incidents such as fatalities in agriculture and construction due to heat stress, ergonomic injuries reported by grocery warehouse workers and office workers, and pulmonary illness related to cement exposure.
- Review information related to the incident, as well as medical and scientific data;
- Conduct worksite visits with Cal/OSHA staff to review potential hazards and exposures;
- Interview affected workers, medical staff, and other key persons who can provide information relevant to evaluating the case;
- Provide a written medical opinion to Cal/OSHA regarding the relationship of work to the injury, illness or fatality based on a rigorous assessment of available information;
- Provide recommendations and resources to help employers protect against future illnesses, injuries, or fatalities.