Employers in the construction industry nationwide, including Illinois, have concerns about the prevalence of workers who seem to be inseparable from their cellphones and headphones or earbuds. They notice workers arriving at work wearing headphones, listening to music or other forms of entertainment, changing into their work gear, and starting their tasks as if their cellphones and listening devices were part of them. However, safety authorities have so far failed to establish related safety standards despite the risks of severe injuries in construction accidents.
Some construction company owners suggest employers establish their own safety protocols to rule out cellphone use on construction sites. This type of personal cellphone use is more prevalent among the younger generation of construction workers. Safety authorities in this industry warn business owners about potential related risks.
The music these workers have blaring in their ears will mask environmental noises and sounds, many of which can warn of imminent dangerous conditions. Furthermore, workers could put themselves at risk because they are unable to hear instructions, shouts of warning or a co-worker calling for help. Active construction sites are already noisy environments with heavy equipment, machines and vehicular traffic, and adding load music could exacerbate the hazards.
Victims of construction accidents in Illinois are typically eligible for benefits through the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance system. Although the program is a no-fault system that pays benefits regardless of who caused an accident, employers might try to contest claims from those whose injuries occurred while they were listening to music. In such circumstances, the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney could be invaluable.