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Medical expenses and lost wages can ruin financial stability

A spokesperson for an area office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Illinois says the owner of a pallet manufacturing company disregarded safety standards, risking the health of employees. Work-related illnesses or injuries can burden workers with mountains of medical expenses and lost wages. This does not only create financial problems for the workers, but it could also lead to increased insurance premiums for the employer.

Reportedly, compliance inspectors of OSHA were shocked to find that employees at the pallet manufacturing plant were exposed to almost 10 times the permissible levels of carbon monoxide exposure. This inspection followed an incident in which 10 workers needed emergency care after exposure to excessive carbon monoxide levels. OSHA proposed penalties exceeding $216,000.

Avoid a lifetime of pain by wearing proper footwear on the job

As a construction worker, you engage in dangerous activities while working. Climbing ladders, driving vehicles and handling machinery describes your daily life. You rely on protective gear to shield your body from injuries, and your required uniform should be comfortable enough to wear throughout long shifts during a hot Illinois summer.

Continuous wear and tear to the same tendons may not be felt in individual days or months. Yet years of uncomfortable footwear may leave you with an aching back and knees. Comfortable footwear not only makes working more enjoyable, but it leaves you with the ability to work extended shifts. Longer, less painful work stints result in more money for you and your company.

Construction accidents can have devastating consequences

Of all the different industries in Illinois, employees in the construction sector are at the highest risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the rate of fatal construction accidents exceeds the average rate of deaths in all industry sectors nationwide. What is concerning is the fact that most fatal injuries are caused by a few common types of accidents, which are all preventable by compliance with safety regulations.

One of the most significant hazards that construction workers face is working at heights. Not only are those working on elevated structures like scaffolds at risk of falling, but employees who work at lower levels could be struck by objects dropped by workers at higher levels. Even a small tool can cause a deadly injury if it falls a great distance. Electrocution hazards are present on all construction sites. Direct contact with power lines, incomplete electrical systems, exposed wiring or other live parts can cause injuries, and indirect contact with a conducting material or object can also cause death.

Lawsuit might follow fatal work-related accident

An Illinois family has many unanswered questions about the death of a loved one. After more than two weeks of uncertainty, they want to know why and how their father and husband lost his life in a work-related accident. The man worked for a wrecking company, and he was in an elevated basket when the incident occurred.

Reportedly, two members of the wrecking crew were cutting pipes in the elevator shaft of a building. An unknown fault or malfunction caused them to fall from the sixth-floor level to their deaths. A spokesperson for the mayor's office says that although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation, the city is conducting its own inquiry.

How will workers' compensation deal with marijuana use?

Although only medical marijuana use is currently legal in Illinois, there is growing support for recreational use as well. However, many questions are being asked about the impact this will have on workplace safety. How will business owners and their workers' compensation insurers deal with work injury claims filed by users of cannabis?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says marijuana distorts perception and impairs judgment and short-term memory. Safety authorities have linked the use of cannabis to increased numbers of workplace injuries and accidents, believed to result from these short-term effects. They say marijuana also impairs workers' sense of timing and their reaction times, while it also alters their capabilities to solve problems. Furthermore, they believe the drug changes the thought patterns and sensory perception of users while it also impairs body movement.

UV radiation causes skin cancer and substantial medical expenses

Illinois employees in all occupations that involve outdoor work or exposure to the UV radiation of the sun may not realize the risk of skin cancer. Such an occupational disease can lead to significant health problems, medical expenses and lost income. It is not only landscapers, postal workers, construction workers and other outdoor workers who are at risk but also drivers who spend many hours exposed to the sun through the side windows of their vehicles.

While using sunscreen and wearing a hat and sunglasses can provide workers some protection, employers have the responsibility to keep workers safe from injury or illness. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers guidelines to show employers how to address sun safety. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 8,500 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed nationwide daily.

A dropped tool can cause a deadly workplace injury

Any Illinois workers who move about below others at higher levels will be at risk of being struck by falling tools. Even a small tool dropped from a significant height can cause a deadly workplace injury. However, it is not only workers on high-altitude work sites such as scaffolds and masts that must take care. Those on elevated areas of warehouses and other workplaces also have to be careful.

According to prescribed safety regulations, all tools used at heights must be tethered by lanyards to a tool belt worn by the worker, or to the structure on which he or she is working. Authorities say the question is not which tools to tether but rather which tools to take onto the elevated work area because every piece of equipment or tool must be tethered. For this reason, careful consideration is necessary when tools to take on the job are selected.

Can artificial intelligence make work injury a thing of the past?

If artificial intelligence can prevent car accidents, then why can it not be used to avoid workplace accidents? An author who calls himself a futurist told audiences at the recent American Society of Safety Professionals' (ASSP) Safety 2018 Conference and Exposition that AI, machine learning and automation will revolutionize employee safety in the 21st century. Will this mean that a work injury becomes an anomaly? Will safety officials and employees in Illinois and other states embrace such safety protocols?

Advanced algorithms are already harnessed for certain safety industry aspects, and the use of artificial intelligence can expand to protect employees in all industries. Currently, faces in images and photos are being identified by algorithms, and it could, in a similar manner, be programmed to prevent workers entry on job sites without the required personal protective equipment. If cars can be programmed, then AI could undoubtedly be utilized to create self-driving forklifts.

Workers' comp will cover medical expenses for heat illness

Every summer, workers nationwide, including some in Illinois, suffer heat-related illnesses. Heat stroke can be a life-threatening condition, and the resulting medical expenses and lost wages can adversely impact a victim's financial stability. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have developed a tool that might keep workers safe who are exposed to summer heat.

The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is an app that workers can access on their mobile phones. It is not only available in English but also in Spanish, and it can be used for heat index calculation. Those who work in full sunlight might experience a 15-degree Fahrenheit increase in the heat index, and precautions are essential to protect workers. By using the Heat Safety Tool, the level of risk for exposed workers will be displayed, based on the heat index.

Warehouse accidents can cause serious workplace injuries

Even though employers in Illinois are expected to protect the health and safety of their employees, many workers realize that they are the best protectors of their own safety. Workers in depots or distribution centers can avoid warehouse accidents by becoming familiar with the typical hazards in such facilities. Warehouses are potentially dangerous environments that pose numerous risks.

Forklifts can cause serious accidents, and only qualified employees should operate them. However, all workers must learn about safety around forklifts. Just by cleaning up spills and getting rid of debris and random out-of-place objects, workers can prevent slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents, which typically result in serious injuries. Wearing non-slip shoes could prevent falls on slippery floors.

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