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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Excessive noise can cause life-altering workplace injury

Machine shops in manufacturing facilities nationwide, including Illinois, typically expose workers to high levels of noise. A hearing-related workplace injury may develop gradually, and by the time it becomes evident, proving it to be work-related might be challenging. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to inform workers of the hazards they will face, and also protect them from harm by providing personal protective equipment, including hearing protection.

Workers in manufacturing plants are typically exposed to noise levels that exceed 95 decibels, and when such exposure lasts for four hours or longer, those who do not wear hearing protection can suffer irreversible hearing loss. Safety authorities say even escalations of one or two decibels can significantly increase the danger levels of occupational noise. With the increase of every decibel, the time before damage starts is reduced, so much so that when noise levels rise from 95 to 97 decibels, the exposure time decreases by one hour.

Chicago company faces work injury penalties exceeding $250,000

Employees of companies that are placed on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are at a significant disadvantage. When work injury hazards are left unaddressed, chances of suffering severe or fatal injuries increase. This is the fate of the workers of a Chicago masonry company. Work is hard to come by, and the employees of the company might have no other choice than knowingly putting their lives on the line each day

The safety and health of workers are the responsibility of the employer, who is required by law to protect workers from known occupational hazards. The failure to do this can lead to OSHA citations and fines, but some employers continue to disregard employee safety. According to OSHA, the masonry company was added to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program after fall protection violations were identified in 13 safety inspections since 2010.

Rescuers save trapped man from auger in work-related accident

Many workers risk their lives in coal mines across Illinois each day. A work-related accident can happen in the blink of an eye, and compliance with safety standards is essential. Occupational Safety and Health Administration authorities note that all workplace injuries are preventable by following prescribed rules and guidelines.

OSHA investigators are looking into a coal mine accident that occurred in a neighboring state on a recent Thursday morning. Under the circumstances yet to be determined, a 29-year-old man became trapped in an auger at a charcoal plant. Reportedly, first responders rushed to the mine after the fire department received an emergency call at about 5 a.m. They arrived to find the worker trapped up to his waist, and a complicated rescue process followed.

Work-related accident sends 3 Illinois workers to burn center

It took fire crews only three minutes to respond to the scene of a flash explosion in Chicago on a Wednesday morning earlier this month. However, battling the blaze kept them busy for several hours, during which time their first task was to rescue workers who were involved in this work-related accident. The explosion occurred at a tank cleaning company in East Chicago.

It is unsure at this time whether a boiler explosion caused the fire, as first suspected, or whether it occurred in the garage area. The containers holding the chemicals for cleaning tanks were in this area. The office complex had to be evacuated because the fire destroyed both the office building and the garage area.

Penalties for third-party negligence in construction zones raised

The Illinois State Senate District 23 recently announced a measure that might prevent many occupational fatalities in construction zones across the state. Under the new law, the current maximum fine of $10,000 for third-party negligence that injures or kills workers in construction zones will increase to $25,000 when it becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2020. State Senator Tom Cullerton says the higher penalty might put an end to the epidemic and discourage distracted driving in construction zones.

Too many construction workers are killed or severely injured by irresponsible drivers who fail to keep their eyes off the road. Construction workers put their lives on the line day and night to improve the state's infrastructure. A tragedy in Sept. 2018, in which a construction worker suffered fatal injuries, provided part of the motivation for the new bill.

Lack of hand safety protocols can lead to work injury

Employers in Illinois are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. This includes the prevention of hand injuries. Along with providing protective gloves, safeguards on equipment with moving parts are crucial. The fact that workers use their hands for almost every job they do underscores the need for effective safety protocols. It is the task of each employer to assess potential workplace hazards to prevent work injury.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a significant number of hand injuries cause lost workdays. Whether the work injury involves a minor laceration or a finger amputation, it will affect a worker's ability to do his or her job. Hand protection is necessary to prevent abrasions, cuts, lacerations and puncture wounds. Exposure to dangerous substances can cause chemical burns, contact with hot surfaces can cause other burn injuries.

Can technology reduce work injury risks?

Construction companies in Illinois and across the country are learning how revolutionary technology can benefit their businesses. Along with improved bottom lines, technological advancements can improve employee safety. With fewer work injury claims filed for benefits, escalating insurance premiums can be avoided. Some of the advancements, such as the various wearables designed for construction workers, can reduce construction site injuries.

The futuristic technologies include equipment tagging, virtual reality, drones, robotics, Building Information Modeling, and radio-frequency identification tagging (RFID). Construction workers can wear the devices on their glasses, hardhats, vests, wristbands or boots, and along with tracking the physical location of the wearer, it can also monitor the environmental conditions. Some are equipped with emergency buttons that can alert rescue workers in emergencies. If the wearable is also equipped with GPS technology, it can lead rescuers to the worker's location. Wearables can monitor the vital signs of workers and warn them of imminent danger.

Work-related accident claims life of IDOT worker

The Illinois Department of Transportation reported a fatal accident in Lake County. This incident resulted from one of the workplace hazards known as the fatal four. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, crushing injuries are one of the four work-related accident types that cause most occupational fatalities.

Reportedly, the incident occurred on a recent Tuesday morning shortly after midnight at the site of a road construction zone. According to a preliminary report, a 56-year-old employee lost her life after being struck by a construction vehicle at the site of the IDOT project. The dump truck was backing up at the time of the accident. The victim was an employee of the contracting construction company.

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.

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