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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Your personal doctor can help treat your workplace injury

Illinois employers often act like they want to make sure their injured workers are taken care of, but many victims are shocked when they are forced to return to work early. It is unfortunately all too common for victims of workplace injuries to be told that their injuries are not serious or do not require further treatment, even when the opposite is true. While this is a stressful situation to deal with, it is usually possible to see a doctor of your own preference for a workplace injury.

Whether sent to a company-owned clinic or a physician who works closely with the employer, doctors tasked with treating injured workers often have a company's bottom line on the mind. Doctors who work in close proximity with employers tend to find injured workers capable of returning to daily work activity without going to the trouble of rendering an accurate diagnosis. This puts victims in the difficult position of returning to work or insisting upon further treatment and possibly risking termination.

Fatal falls from roofs an all-too-common worksite tragedy

Construction company owners must take responsibility for the health and safety of their employees. Part of that responsibility is to provide the necessary personal protective equipment to prevent falls, which are some of the most frequently cited causes of fatalities on construction sites. Disregard of this rule may be found to have been the cause of the death of an Illinois roofer in a recent workplace accident.

An accident report by the medical examiner in Cook County along with Chicago Police indicates that a 42-year-old worker was working on roof repairs when he fell approximately 35 feet. After providing first aid, one of his co-workers called 911 when he came across his injured colleague. The victim was rushed to a medical facility, but he was declared dead upon arrival.

Asbestos exposure in disaster cleanup can cause workplace injury

The floods caused by Hurricane Harvey prompted reminders by safety authorities about the hazards clean-up crews may face. Damaged older buildings pose asbestos hazards, and Illinois workers who are sent to help clean up disaster areas must keep the associated workplace injury threat in mind and make sure they are equipped with the appropriate protective gear. The destruction of natural disasters can cause harmful and toxic substances to be released into the air, water and soil when older buildings are damaged.

Uncontained asbestos --present in many pre-1970 buildings -- can release tiny, needle-like fibers when disturbed. If they are inhaled, they get stuck in tissues and can cause potentially terminal diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Before the dangers of asbestos were recognized, it was used in roofing materials, insulation, joint compound, wallboard and flooring tiles. It was also present in materials used for soundproofing and fireproofing.

Violence against nurses cause more than serious injury

Employees in the health care industry nationwide, including in Illinois, often face life-threatening situations in carrying out their duties. The prevalence of violent attacks by patients in hospitals and other health care settings is a matter of grave concern. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says almost three-quarters of reported workplace assaults causing serious injury from 2011 through 2013 occurred in health care facilities.

Three nurses shared their ordeals, explaining that being groped and slapped is not at all uncommon. One described how she was repeatedly punched in the head. A third nurse said her life was changed forever after she suffered a brain aneurysm resulting from a blood pressure spike that occurred when she was bitten by a patient. In recent years, hospitals around Chicago have experienced a number of violent incidents.

Paid recovery time is a critical part of IL workers' compensation

Getting hurt at work can be a nerve-wracking experience. First, there's the concern about the degree and severity of your injuries. You may need help from co-workers just to reach the nurse's station or medical facility at your job. Then, there's the concern about how long it will take to heal. Will you make a full recovery, or will your strength and flexibility remain limited after you heal?

You may even worry about whether you'll be able to keep your same job, particularly if it's a physically demanding position. Will you need to find a new job or even a new career path? All of that can be quite concerning, but the good news is that workers' compensation exists to protect you after a work injury.

Hotel worker falls to his death in work-related accident

The threat of falling exists in any workplace, regardless of the industry. An Illinois office worker may not be at as much risk of falling as a construction worker, but the danger is present in a wide variety of work environments. A hotel in a neighboring state recently announced the tragic death of one of its employees in a work\-related accident.

The police department says a fatal fall claimed the life of a 63-year-old man on a recent Tuesday evening. Reportedly, the man was a well-liked and efficient front desk employee of the hotel who did not hesitate to do tasks beyond his regular responsibilities. This characteristic might have been what led him to check on an elevator problem at about 6 p.m. that night.

Safety preparedness prevented workplace injury in chemical fire

Now and then a story is published that shows that not all employers disregard the safety and health of their employees. So many workers in Illinois and elsewhere are victims of on-the-job injuries because they work in unsafe environments where safety regulations are disregarded. When a fire broke out at a chemical factory in Illinois recently, the company was prepared, and all the workers were evacuated. As a result, not even one workplace injury was reported.

According to a sheriff's report, a suspected technical malfunction caused a fire to break out in a chemical storage tank on a recent Thursday afternoon. Reportedly, alkali and an aluminum compound caused the blaze, which posed a particular challenge to firefighters. The reason for that was the fact that if water is added to this chemical combination, it could lead to an explosion. Furthermore, the fierceness of the fire is exacerbated by air, and firefighters had to use other chemicals to extinguish the flames.

Work injury: Over-tired workers at higher risk

The chief executive of the National Safety Council says impairment threatens the safety of workers nationwide, including in Illinois. Not alcohol or drug impairment, but the type brought about by a lack of rest or enough sleep to restore the proper functioning of the body. The executive says sufficient rest is the one thing that can prevent workplace accidents. In a recent survey of 2,000 workers, organized by the Council, more than one in four workers admitted to being at risk of suffering a work injury due to lack of sleep.

The survey results are backed up by the National Sleep Foundation that says workers who are sleepy have a 70 percent higher chance of suffering on-the-job accidents than those who are well-rested. The lack of sleep affects the abilities to think clearly and make educated decisions while being productive and alert enough to recognize potential hazards. Almost one-third of those who took part in the survey reported around six hours sleep a night while adults need between seven and nine hours every night.

Manufacturing accidents can be prevented

Safety in industrial facilities in Illinois and other states continues to be a concern among authorities. Although more automation involves fewer human workers, some of those who remain in manufacturing plants work with sophisticated but complex machinery that could cause severe injuries. Unfortunately, many business owners encourage cultures that prioritize profits over safety without realizing that manufacturing accidents can jeopardize productivity -- and ultimately profits.

Employees who see their employers value safety cultures will follow suit, and if business owners hire supervisors with similar safety values, workers will feel as if they are only evaluated solely on their production abilities. The necessary safety precautions must be in place, including lockout/tagout devices on all equipment to prevent accidental start ups during maintenance or service of machines. Also the appropriate fall protection and guard rails along with shields to protect workers from being struck by working machine parts.

Can I sue my employer after a workplace injury?

If you recently suffered an injury on the job, you may have concerns that your employer's workers' compensation insurance may not fully address your situation, or maybe you've heard that you should sue your employer rather than accept workers' compensation benefits.

In many cases, employees do not have legal grounds to sue an employer after a workplace accident. If your employer offers you workers' compensation coverage, then the strongest path forward to fair compensation for your injury and losses is through maximizing workers' compensation benefits. An experienced attorney who understands the inner workings of the workers' compensation system can help protect your interests in this process, and ensure that you do not accept lesser benefits than you deserve.

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