The widespread presence of industrial and construction worksites across the Chicago area has brought it a well-earned reputation for being a blue collar, working-man's city. These kind of work environments, however, open up employees to a multitude of health risks that include injury, disease, and even death.
Few, if any, work environments are as potentially dangerous as a construction site. Workers, technicians, drivers, and foreman alike are often surrounded with equipment and exposure to heat, electricity, and heights-any of which could lead to a serious injury or potential death if things go wrong. This risk is only exacerbated if managers and employers in charge of a construction site show negligence or willful disregard for safety.
Chicago has been known for more than a century as an industrious, working-man's city. The number of manufacturing, construction, and foundry jobs present in the area has always earned the area a tough, blue collar image. However, these workplaces often lend themselves to unfortunate, sometimes tragic, accidents.
One of the most difficult aspects of being injured at work is understanding what your next step should be. Obviously, you should seek medical treatment for your injury, but even that is not as clear cut as it may seem. How much will your doctor’s visit cost and can you afford it? Since you were injured at work, will your employer pay for your medical bills? Can you see any doctor, or must you see a company-approved physician? What if you can’t work anymore? Yet these complicated questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the rights of an injured worker.
At one time in our working career, many of us have worked in the food service industry. It’s practically a rite of passage as a teenager’s first job, pays tuition for numerous college students, and serves as a full-time career for many adults. In fact, approximately 9.7 million people in the United States work in the dining and beverage service industry. Though there are many advantages to these jobs, there are multiple drawbacks as well. Long hours, sore feet, and demanding customers are just a few of the downsides of the industry. A greater concern, however, is the number of safety and health hazards faced by food service workers.
Be thankful the holidays featuring turkey are nearly a year away, otherwise a recent accident at the Jennie-O turkey plant might inspire you to make it a tofurkey Thanksgiving. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited the Jennie-O Turkey Store with eleven safety violations. The citations came after an inspection of the plant which was triggered by a gruesome accident in July 2011. In the incident, an employee’s arm was severed below the shoulder after becoming entangled in an energized turkey shackle. The worker was working alone in a confined space, and after the accidental amputation, had to travel down a flight of stairs and across a production floor by himself to obtain help from a co-worker. Predominant among the citations were violations of safety standards for working in confined spaces. Such working conditions are present across a variety of industries and professions, and carry with it a number of safety concerns.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, an injury which affects the wrist and hands, continues to be one of the most commonly reported work-related injuries. The carpal tunnel is a narrow area of the wrist through which the median nerve and tendons pass from the arm into the hand. Repetitive motion or injury can cause this area to swell, putting pressure on the nerve and tendons, and causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Syndrome sufferers experience symptoms in the affected hand and wrist ranging from varying degrees of pain, reduced range of motion, tingling and/or loss of feeling, and even a total or near-total inability to use the affected hand altogether. As nearly every job function requires the use of the hands, often in repetitive motions like keyboard or tool use, this injury is responsible for an exceptionally large number of injuries in the work place. With so many workers facing this potentially debilitating injury, it can be helpful to understand what treatment options are available.
After 2011’s record-breaking number of extreme weather events, many are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst this winter. However, many areas are just entering the hardest part of winter. For instance, Illinois state climatologists estimate that the area experiences an average of five major winter storms between November and April, with January the worst month. While many of us can take steps to avoid being exposed to potentially deadly weather, for others, it’s a part of their job. Utility and sanitation workers, fire and police, even agriculture, transportation and warehouse workers are constantly exposed to cold temperatures. As a result, many of these workers may develop a variety of injuries caused by cold stress.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that Illinois-based All-Feed Processing and Packaging Inc., is facing a number of serious citations for health and safety violations in the workplace. This announcement follows on the heels of a recent deadly explosion at a Kansas grain silo, further highlighting the gravity of safety violations at feed and grain handling sites. Unfortunately, All-Feed, which processes and packages animal food, is no stranger to such citations. OSHA considers the company to be a serious repeat offender, consistently failing to eliminate or reduce safety and health risks to their employees.
A powerful explosion which destroyed a grain elevator at the Bartlett Grain Company in northeast Kansas also claimed six lives. The accident, which occurred on the evening of October 29, killed four Bartlett employees, Chad Roberts, 20, Ryan Federinko, 21, Curtis Field, 21, John Burke, 24, as well as two private grain inspectors, Travis Keil, 34 and Darrek Klahr. Also as a result of the explosion, two others received serious injuries which required their admittance to the University of Kansas Hospital’s burn unit. As officials prepare to investigate the exact cause of the explosion, a long history of injuries and fatalities for workers at grain elevators point to the danger seemingly inherent in the industry.