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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Fatal head injury proof of inadequate safety training

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that the number of fatalities in the construction industry in 2017 was lower than in previous years, but the number of deaths resulting from falls remains a concern. The agency reported that 366 construction workers nationwide, including Illinois, fell to their deaths in 2017. OSHA cited one particular fatal head injury as an example that underscores the importance of adequate safety training.

The incident occurred on the site of a newly constructed residence where contractors arrived to install gutters. The four workers were said to be specialists in this field. One of them positioned a ladder on the roof of the residence's porch, and stood on the ladder to take the measurements for the gutters to be installed. As he climbed down from the ladder after completing the task, the ladder's base slipped.

Work injuries: McDonald's workers seek protection from violence

The National Employment Law Project recently reported shocking numbers of violent incidents aimed at McDonald's employees nationwide. An employee of a McDonald's store in Chicago says the company should provide staff training on dealing with aggressive customers. She says the cashiers are at the highest risk of suffering violence-related work injuries because they are in face-to-face contact with the customers.

NELP underscores the need for training that will teach workers what to do if they become victims of assaults and other types of violence. The organization's report details more than 700 incidents of violence against McDonald's employees over three years. The episodes include robberies, shootings, verbal altercations and physical attacks that involve anything from food throwing and hot coffee attacks to assaults with deadly weapons.

Learn about lightning safety to avoid work injury this summer

Lightning pose significant dangers, and outdoor workers in Illinois might be smart to learn the myths and truths about this hazard before June when lightning strikes are frequent occurrences. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says June, July and August are the months in which most lightning strikes occur. Any work injury caused by a lightning strike can have severe consequences.

Workers might not realize that lightning bolts can strike up to 10 miles away from a storm, and any signs of a rain storm in the distance should send workers into safe areas. Taking cover under a tree is dangerous because lightning often strikes trees, cellphone towers, tall buildings containing metal and any other tall objects. Workers should disregard the myth that says lightning never strikes in the same place twice because it is not true.

Manufacturing accidents: 3 lives lost in Silicone plant explosion

A massive explosion that destroyed a silicone plant rocked an Illinois city in Lake County on a recent Friday evening. Manufacturing accidents are often deadly, and this one claimed the lives of three workers, and another worker is missing and suspected to have been killed as well. Some of the surviving workers say those who died warned them to leave the building because they realized the imminent danger.

The yet unexplained explosion left only the skeleton of the plant standing, and rescue workers searched through the rubble for survivors. Of the nine workers who were in the building during the blast, two did not need medical treatment. Four others were rushed to a hospital where one succumbed to critical injuries. The body of one worker was recovered early on the day following the explosion.

What does analysis of 25 years of work injury causes reveal?

Safety authorities in Illinois and other states gather injury data throughout each year to analyze it and find ways to improve workplace safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported interesting findings after processing work injury and fatality data collected over 25 years. The information was obtained from 1992 through 2016, and the results show that analyzing the injuries and causes have led to improved workplace safety.

This report forms part of the BLS "Spotlight on Statistics" series and reveals that bodily reaction to overexertion was the primary cause for absence from work throughout the studied period. However, there was a drop of almost 71% between the 1992 and 2016 numbers for such injuries. Fatalities also decreased over that period, with the 2016 work-related deaths totals dropping over 16% than those recorded in 1992.

Violating safety rules can cause fatal work-related accident

Confined spaces pose some of the most significant hazards to workers in various industries nationwide, including Illinois. Safety authorities say a better understanding of the dangers of confined spaces and the safety regulations could help keep workers safe. They say compliance with the rules, which could be confusing, can prevent a fatal work-related accident.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a confined space is one that is large enough to accommodate a worker to do his or her job. If it has restricted, or limited exit or entry means, it qualifies as a confined space, even if it is a large area -- such as a tanker. Workers must not occupy such spaces continuously. If there is no obvious serious health or safety hazard, no permit is required for a confined space, but time spent inside the space must be limited.

Workplace accidents involving electricity affect most industries

Illinois workers in all industries -- from general to farming, construction and others -- face electrical hazards every day. Safety authorities say the highest number of electricity-related workplace accidents occur in the construction industry each year. Thousands of such incidents are reported annually, and although data is available to substantiate the numbers, secondary injuries, which would increase those numbers, are excluded. An example is when an electrical shock causes a worker to get hurt by falling off a ladder.

Employers in all workplaces must ensure that all employees are aware of electrical hazards and understand electrical safety. Where possible, electrical hazards must be eliminated. Known dangers include underground and overhead power lines, faulty equipment, damaged insulation, lightning and improper grounding. One of the severe risks involves cleaning or doing maintenance on equipment without first de-energizing it.

Energy control crucial to prevent manufacturing accidents

One of the most significant threats to the safety of employees in the Illinois manufacturing industry is unexpected energizing of equipment during servicing, cleaning or maintenance procedures. Without adequate lockout/tagout protocols, manufacturing accidents can cause catastrophic injuries that might lead to amputation or death. If machines are not isolated from energy sources, unanticipated startup or stored energy release can have devastating consequences.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict guidelines by which employers must establish sustainable lockout/tagout programs. A written document must explain the program's elements in a way that employees can understand. Annual reviews are crucial to ensure the program remains relevant and continues to protect workers. It is essential to identify and mark switches, valves, plugs and breakers with permanent tags or labels.

Workplace head injury claims life of water commission employee

Federal and state safety authorities require employers to mitigate all known safety hazards to protect the health and safety of employees, regardless of the industry. However, known risks are sometimes overlooked, and the consequences can be devastating. Such was the case earlier this month when an Illinois worker suffered a head injury that led to his death.

According to an incident report by Villa Park police, a 59-year-old employee of DuPage County was struck in the head by a portable directional board. The incident occurred shortly after noon on Friday, Feb. 8. Reportedly, the injured worker was rushed to a medical facility in Maywood, but he succumbed to his injuries mid-morning on the following day. The coroner's report indicates that complications of his head injuries were the cause of death.

Many work injury threats are wrongly regarded as insignificant

Many of the millions of occupational injuries that occur nationwide each year are caused by hazards deemed insignificant. While each workplace in Illinois might have unique hazards, some common work injury risks exist in all facilities, from kitchens to offices, factories, construction sites and more. Safety authorities say a significant percentage of injuries can be avoided if employers and employees familiarize themselves with these dangers and stay alert to identify and mitigate them.

Accidents involving slips on liquid spills and trips over debris or randomly placed objects can, and do happen in all work environments. Cleaning spills, removing debris and using proper storage for objects can prevent falls that could lead to fractures, soft tissue injuries and even traumatic brain injuries. Electrical hazards are also present in almost all workplaces. Extension cords, overloaded sockets, frayed wires and other electrical problems are often ignored, even tough they could cause death by electrocution.

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