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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Work injury hazards widespread in nursing industry

Hospitals across Illinois took note of the increased presence of workplace violence after a recent shooting incident in a hospital in another state. One doctor lost his life in that incident, and five other individuals were injured. The threat of suffering a work injury is part of the everyday life of every nurse, and authorities are working on establishing protocols to prevent violent incidents in health care facilities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the risks of violence in the workplace is four times higher for health care workers and others working in social assistance positions than the average for all employees in the private sector. Nurses have to face multiple stressful situations in environments filled with high pressure every day, and added to that is the threat of potential violence by patients or their families. However, advocacy groups and workers in this industry believe the incidence of violence is more prevalent now than what it was before.

OSHA finds similar trench hazards 1 month after fatal work injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently called on all business owners, including those in Illinois, with employees that are required to enter trenches to review the safety protocols related to excavations. This followed the death of a worker who suffered a fatal work injury when a trench collapsed in a neighboring state. OSHA came down hard on the employer because the agency found similar safety violations at another site of the same company within a month of the fatality.

OSHA says the first investigation was launched after the December death of an employee. An unprotected trench that was 12 feet deep collapsed and caused the death of a 33-year-old worker. The second investigation at a different site one month later found more employees in a trench with no cave-in protection. OSHA cited the business owner with eight serious and six willful violations, and the agency proposed penalties exceeding $714,000.

Workers' compensation benefits cover heat-related illnesses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reminded company owners of the dangers posed by heat exposure. Employers were urged to protect outdoor workers and also employees who are exposed to excessive indoor temperatures. During heat waves, temperatures can soar to level over 90 degrees, and workers can suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Many of these cases will lead to workers' compensation benefits claims.

Thousands of employees in Illinois suffer from heat exposure every summer; sadly, some of them do not survive. Fatalities resulting from heat illness are always preventable, and precautionary steps are not complicated. However, some employers fail to understand that new employees -- or those returning after an absence from work -- must be allowed to acclimatize and get their bodies used to the heat before letting them work in the sun for a full day. A significant number of heat-illness fatalities occur within the first three days of employment.

Work injury: Warning of cancer-threats of hydraulic fracking

Groups of opponents to the proposed fracking in Illinois made their concerns known at a recent meeting at the offices of Carbondale Township. Their primary concern is the associated risk of exposure to radioactive material that hydraulic fracturing is said to bring about. Not only will it be a source of potentially serious incidents of work injury for those who will be employed at the proposed sites but may also be a health threat to surrounding communities.

Those who are opposed say their concerns over environmental contamination are added to those about the earthquake links to the high-pressure injections of fluids into underground cavities. A spokesperson says the proposed well site is in White County where studies have shown a natural occurrence of radioactive materials. According to results of the study, the shale of Southern Illinois contain unusually high percentages of radioactive materials.

Get everything you deserve from workers’ compensation

When you file a claim with your employer's workers' compensation, you might assume that you can trust the terms the insurer offers because the coverage is there to protect you. Unfortunately, protecting you and providing for your recovery in the wake of an on-the-job injury is often not the highest priority for your employer's insurer.

In many cases, your employer's insurer is more concerned with protecting their own bottom line than with ensuring that the coverage or settlement they offer meets all of your needs. Furthermore, it is likely that the insurer may attempt to save money by offering you substandard benefits or undervaluing your injury altogether.

Traumatic work injury suffered when nurse is held hostage

Illinois workers in the construction or manufacturing industries might be surprised to learn that hospital workers face higher risks of suffering workplace injuries than they do. The truth is that hospitals are far more dangerous workplace environments with multiple sources of safety hazards that can cause work injury. Concerned parties say this should be a significant reason for action among leaders in the medical and nursing industries.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, five causes make up most of the occupational injuries among hospital workers. These are -- according to prevalence -- overexertion, slips or trips and falls, injuries caused by contact with dangerous objects, violence and chemical exposure. Of these, the highest percentage of injuries are related to overexertion and statistics indicate that eight in every 10 nurses frequently experience musculoskeletal pain while working.

Maintenance worker suffers fatal work injury under semi-trailer

Workplace accidents are prevalent in all industries nationwide, including in Illinois. Many workers likely know that anybody can suffer a work injury at any time, and only compliance with safety regulations can protect them. However, sometimes lives are lost without witnesses, and investigators have to piece together evidence to form a picture of the circumstances that caused a fatality.

Authorities reported that a 59-year-old man died in a workplace accident on a recent Tuesday morning. Emergency workers responded after receiving a call about an incident at a food company in Effingham. They arrived at the scene to find a man trapped under a semi-trailer that had apparently dropped onto him.

Workplace accidents: Dust explosion at corn mill kills 4

Residents of a small community in a state neighboring Illinois are struggling to get over the deaths caused by an explosion at a corn mill that is the cornerstone of the town. Corn mills nationwide, including in Illinois, will always pose dust explosion hazards, and only compliance with safety regulations can prevent such tragic workplace accidents. While smoke was still drifting from the site, the death of a fourth worker was announced.

Reportedly, 16 employees were on duty when an explosion rocked the mill. The fire continued through the devastation, and rescue workers discovered the bodies of three workers as they cleared away the debris and rubble in the days following the blast. Almost a dozen other employees were injured and taken to a hospital, from where some had since been released; however, one more worker succumbed to his injuries almost a week after the mill erupted in flames. At that time, four others reportedly remained hospitalized.

Manufacturing accidents can cause catastrophic injuries

Owners of industrial facilities in Illinois and other states must comply with numerous safety regulations that are specifically aimed at protecting factory workers. Industrial employees are often exposed to the dangers of moving machine parts that lack prescribed safeguards. Another typical hazard that could lead to manufacturing accidents is the absence of devices to prevent unintentional startups during maintenance or cleaning of equipment.

An employee at a Schick factory in another state recently suffered an injury that might have been caused by one of these safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators are reportedly at the factory to determine the cause of the accident. According to an incident report, emergency workers responded to the facility shortly after 9 a.m. on a recent Thursday.

Incremental injuries cause real harm, too

Here in Chicago, much of our workforce works in industrial environments that present constant dangers to long-term safety. In many cases, industrial workers suffer incremental injuries that employers only recognize reluctantly.

On-the-job injuries come in many shapes and sizes, and some of them get easily overlooked. Depending on your work environment, you may suffer injuries that take time to make themselves apparent.

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