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.
More and more business owners in Illinois recognize the benefits of ergonomics in workplaces. It is becoming clear that ergonomic changes can reduce the costs of work injury-related sprains and strains, and bring about direct and indirect savings linked to improved productivity. It was recently reported that ergonomic changes could even benefit forklift operators.
An investigative report on the prevalence of occupational injuries in the chicken processing industry in Illinois and other states recently revealed that under-reporting remains to be a concerning matter. Many workers fear retaliation for reporting a work injury, and those injuries that are reported are often not recorded. Workers in this industry work long shifts with few breaks, performing repetitive motions for hours on end.
Not all occupational injuries result from accidents; disease causes some. One occupational disease to which all construction workers -- including those in Illinois -- are susceptible, is silicosis. Silica forms a significant percentage of the minerals that make up the crust of the earth. For that reason, any job that involves brick, rock or sand exposes workers to silica and the risk of inhaling crystalline silica dust. These particles can cause silicosis that will lead to long-term medical expenses.
Business owners in Illinois must comply with safety regulations as prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Those regulations include their responsibility to protect employees from known hazards and to inform workers of potential risks. Employers must provide safety training in hazard identification and what workers should do to avoid or prevent work injury.
Employers in Illinois warehouses and fulfillment centers are responsible for the health and safety of employees. Some hazards are common to such facilities, and all workers must receive the necessary safety training. Forklifts are some of the most hazardous pieces of equipment that pose work injury risks to all employees.
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.
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.
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?
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.