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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Construction accidents involving trench collapses raise concern

Safety authorities report that the number of trench-related fatalities nationwide, including in Illinois, increased at an alarming rate over the past two years. They say that most of these lives were lost in construction accidents on residential properties rather than in road construction zones and pipeline dig sites. Residential projects that involve repairs or laying new sewer lines or water pipes proved to be most hazardous.

A spokesperson for a contractors' organization that offers safety training for trench excavations says the primary cause for the increase in fatalities is the decline in the availability of skilled labor. He says many skilled workers left the building industry during the recession 10 years ago. With the decrease in the numbers of construction projects at that time, fewer fatalities were recorded.

Work-related accident causes fatal injuries to 30-year-old worker

Employers in Illinois and across the country must protect employees from harm in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes regulations for all industries, and compliance can prevent any work-related accident. However, many workers are exposed to life-threatening hazards every day because their employers fail to provide work environments that are free of known dangers.

A 30-year-old man lost his life in a workplace accident that happened on a recent Monday. Authorities say the incident occurred at a facility that deals in the supply of concrete and other building materials. The medical examiner determined that the worker's death was caused by the multiple injuries he suffered in an industrial accident.

Falling palm tree causes head injury to landscape worker

The police department of an Illinois village reported its response to an emergency when a landscape worker suffered workplace injuries. Officers from the village's public safety department also rushed to the scene to attend to the worker who suffered a head injury. According to an incident report, it was a construction-related accident that occurred on a recent Wednesday.

Authorities say the injured man was a member of a landscaping crew who was planting large palm trees. Under the circumstances yet to be determined, one tree fell over, striking the worker against his neck and head. Reportedly, it was suspected that the worker suffered cardiac arrest after the tree hit him, and paramedics rushed him to a medical facility.

Trench collapse victim suffers workplace injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently launched another campaign to address trench safety because of the high numbers of cave-ins. Trench collapses have claimed so many lives of workers in Illinois and elsewhere that it is almost unheard of for anyone to escape with a nonfatal workplace injury. However, miracles happen, and a construction worker was recently saved after a trench wall collapsed on him in Morris.

According to a police report, the incident happened on a recent Monday at a residential site where construction workers were excavating a trench with a depth of over seven feet. A worker was inside the yet unprotected trench when one wall caved in. Reportedly, the soil mass pinned the 49-year-old worker against the opposite wall.

Construction accidents: Crane drops load that kills 1, injures 1

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it has launched an investigation into an incident in Illinois that claimed the life of one worker and caused serious injuries to a co-worker. This appears to be one of the many preventable construction accidents that claim workers' lives each year. According to a police report, emergency services were called to a construction site in Evanston on a Tuesday morning earlier this month.

Police and firefighters rushed to the building site where a nine-story apartment complex is under construction. The only available information about the circumstances of the accident is that the two workers were unloading a steel column from a truck with the help of a crane. For unknown reasons, the steel beams moved out of position and dropped onto the two workers below.

Work injury precautions for those with robotic co-workers

With the rapid advancement in robotics, more and more workers in Illinois and elsewhere find themselves sharing their work areas with robots. The existing safety standards to prevent robot-related work injury are being reviewed and updated. Along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Safety and Health Institute and the American National Standards Institute play roles in regulating the safety of industrial equipment and the use of robotics.

Robots are commonly used in many factories, and OSHA has identified the most frequent accident types involving robotics. Contact accidents happen when there are component malfunctions, unanticipated movements or unplanned program changes that lead to collision or impact between humans and the peripheral equipment or arm of a robot. Mechanical accidents happen when any of the robot's components or parts break down and malfunction.

Construction zone fatality follows third-party negligence

Workers in construction zones in Illinois and other states will always be vulnerable. Too many lives are lost due to third-party negligence when motorists fail to take due care as they travel through work zones. The accidents continue to happen despite calls by authorities for drivers to slow down when they encounter road construction zones.

A 61-year-old worker lost his life in such an accident earlier this month. According to the Illinois State Police, a car struck a construction worker who was part of a crew working on the Tri-State Tollway. A crash report indicates that a driver who was traveling through the work zone failed to maintain control of his car and crossed into a closed-off construction area.

Industrial accidents: Struck-by incident kills 41-year-old worker

Workers in all industries have to deal with occupational hazards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires all employers to ensure workplaces are free of known dangers. Employees must receive adequate safety training, and learn how to prevent injuries. Sadly, industrial accidents continue to claim lives nationwide, including in Illinois.

A 31-year-old man from Shorewood lost his life on a recent Monday. Reportedly, the incident occurred at approximately 9:30 a.m. at a galvanizing plant in Joliet. According to the sheriff's office, the worker suffered a struck-by injury that involved a steel beam. Authorities say an ambulance rushed the critically injured employee to the hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries later. OSHA will investigate the incident.

Steps to prevent workplace injury hazards in warehouses

Employees in warehouses, distribution centers and fulfillment centers in Illinois face various safety risks. Although every employer is expected to address all recognized hazards that could cause a workplace injury, workers' compensation benefits claims from warehouse workers are prevalent. Minimizing ergonomic risks factors can prevent musculoskeletal injuries caused by repeatedly twisting, bending, stretching and lifting -- often in awkward body postures.

The materials used for wheels on carts and trolleys, and the material used for floors, can cause vibrations and noise that could be damaging to workers who are exposed to it for many hours every day. Employers can prevent many injuries by upgrading equipment to limit the need for physical materials handling. Forklifts and conveyor belts can restrict the injury risks significantly. Providing workers with protective equipment such as gloves, safety boots, helmets, eye protection and more could also minimize injuries.

Construction workers can prevent workplace accidents

Workers in the construction industry in Illinois may be smart not to put their safety entirely in the hands of their employers. Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration put the responsibility of workplace safety squarely on the shoulders of employers, profits are often prioritized instead. There are precautions to take  for employees who are alert and aware to prevent workplace accidents.

Precautions start with attending all safety training sessions, even if they cover previously addressed issues. Being reminded of potential hazards might prevent complacency. Being complacent makes workers exceptionally vulnerable. Never going without appropriate personal protective equipment is equally important, even if years of doing the same tasks have not led to injuries. Protection of face, eyes, head, hands and feet is crucial -- not to mention fall protection.

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