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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

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.

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