For employees in some businesses and lines of work, things slow down as it gets closer to the holiday season. Some companies even shut down entirely for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year’s.
However, many Chicago-area residents are in jobs that get much busier and more stressful as the holiday season approaches, with more to do and tighter deadlines in which to do it. That can involve pressure to skip breaks, work overtime and help temporary workers brought in to handle the increased amount of work or fill in for those taking vacation time.
If your job involves physical labor (even things like packing and shipping), driving or working around heavy and/or dangerous equipment, your chances of being injured are likely to increase. Whether you’re working in a warehouse, a big-box store, a restaurant or bakery or as a hotel housekeeper, it’s more crucial than ever to look after your own safety and health – and that of your co-workers.
The role of fatigue
Fatigue is a leading factor in on-the-job injuries at any time of the year. However, it’s more likely to be a factor when employees are working overtime either because they face employer pressure to do so or they want to make some extra money. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that people working 12 or more hours at a time increase their risk of injury by 37%.
Some employers, unfortunately, discourage employees from taking rest and meal breaks. It’s important to know what breaks you’re required to get under the law based on how many hours you’re working. You have a right to insist on those and not to be pressured to clock out when you really didn’t leave for a break or the day.
While you don’t want to suffer an injury so close to the holidays (or any time, of course), it’s important to know that just about all workers in Illinois – even temporary ones – are entitled to some kind of workers’ compensation benefits if they need medical treatment and time off work. If your employer or their insurer is making things difficult, find out what your rights are.