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Chicago Workers' Compensation Blog

What to know about ladder safety

Most Illinois workers still need to use ladders when they work at heights, and that means that ladder safety should be a top priority for a company. March is National Ladder Safety Month, and the goal is to teach people how to use ladders properly both at work and at home. Annually, 300 workers are killed with thousands more injured because of ladder accidents.

There are many variables that an individual needs to consider when using a ladder. For instance, it is important to use one that is tall enough for a given job. If it is too short, it may be necessary to step on the top rung, which can be a safety hazard. If it is too heavy or awkward to carry around, it could result in an individual tearing a muscle or otherwise getting hurt.

Fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?

Workers' compensation covers the medical needs of employees when they suffer injuries on the job, while also serving to protect their employer from injury lawsuits. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of this system and discourage employees from filing legitimate claims and may fire an employee for doing so.

In almost all instances, firing an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim is not legal, and can bring about significant legal consequences for the employer. Practically, however, many employers understand that firing an employee puts them in a difficult financial situation and they cannot afford to fight back.

Wearable technology and workplace safety

Workers in Illinois may soon be fitted with wearable technology in order to remain safe on the job. Wearable technology can include a wide range of devices, including a small fitness device that is to be worn on the wrist or an exoskeleton that encompasses the whole body.

When used for workplace safety, wearable technology can include personal protective equipment fitted with smart technology. For example, workers may have hard hats that are equipped with sensors and glasses with head-up displays. Devices like these can be used by safety professionals and other interested parties to safeguard the health and safety of workers.

Construction workers at risk from safety violations

Construction workers in Chicago can face serious dangers on the job every day. Workplace injuries and accidents can be catastrophic or even fatal. Indeed, 5,147 workers were killed while working in 2017, meaning almost 100 workers lose their lives at work every week. Of the 4,674 of those workers employed in private industry who were killed in 2017, over 20 percent were in the construction industry.

There are a number of common causes of construction accidents, and some of them are particularly devastating. Falls are the leading cause of death for workers in private industry, and people working at heights are at especially high risk of serious falls. Other causes of severe injury included being struck by objects, electrocution or being trapped between objects or structures. Together, these four types of workplace accident caused nearly 60 percent of all fatal construction incidents. By reducing or eliminating these accidents, hundreds of workers' lives could be saved.

Certain cranking positions can spare truckers' shoulders

Certain cranking positions can help truck drivers in Illinois and elsewhere avoid shoulder injuries when raising and lowering trailers, according to a new study. The study was conducted by North Carolina State University and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

For the study, which was published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, researchers analyzed the muscle movements of 12 male truck drivers as they cranked trailers up and down. They focused on a group of 16 muscles that control shoulder movement. Following the completion of cranking operations, they measured the drivers' shoulder muscle activity and scapular range of motion.

BLS releases work-related fatality rates for 2017

In its occupational fatality report for 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted several trends good and bad that should be of interest to workers in diverse industries in Illinois. The good news is that work-related fatalities declined from 5,190 in 2016 to 5,147 in 2017. More than half of the states had fewer injuries in 2017 than in the previous year.

Injuries and illnesses in the private sector saw a decline for the fourteenth year in a row. Employers recorded 2.8 total cases per 100 workers, which is half what the rate was in 2003. Work-related deaths saw their lowest rates since 2003 in the private manufacturing industry and wholesale trade industry.

These jobs are what make the construction industry dangerous

If you are new to the construction industry in Chicago, you may not know how dangerous your job really is. Unfortunately, construction workers suffer injuries every day even when they follow every required safety measure. In other words, sometimes things simply go wrong either due to equipment malfunctioning or another worker's mistake or negligence. When this happens, you could not only end up injured enough to miss work, but, if the injuries are serious, you might end up having to learn alternative skills in order to reenter the workforce.

Having a solid understanding of where the most dangers lurk can help you stay safe while you are on the job. These are the construction jobs that have the highest risk factors.

Scaffolding accidents often caused by safety violations

Construction workers in Illinois may be concerned about their safety on the job, especially if they work on scaffolding and at heights. In the construction industry, accidents involving scaffolds are among the most common. In addition, workplace safety practices for scaffolding are often poor and in violation of federal regulations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), scaffolding problems are the third most common violation found by the agency. In 2016 alone, 3,900 citations were issued for dangerous scaffolds.

Since scaffolding often is positioned at substantial heights, falls and other incidents could lead to catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. Scaffolds are common in construction; indeed, 65 percent of workers in the industry frequently operate on them. Every year, 4,500 employees are injured on scaffolding and 60 lose their lives in fatal workplace accidents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 72 percent of these incidents can be attributed to falls and dangerous or deficient platform structures.

Increasing safety for outdoor workers during winter months

Outdoor workers in Illinois often have to continue their jobs even when temperatures drop and conditions become potentially hazardous. In an effort to help employers in the Prairie State keep their outdoor workers safe, OSHA is spreading information about ways to prevent winter accidents.

Employers are urged to reduce the risk of on-the-job injury incidents by ensuring that workers have proper personal protective equipment. This includes personal fall protection systems for employees working from high locations during winter months. While rooftop snow removal accidents contribute to several injuries and deaths annually, OSHA doesn't have specific snow removal standards. However, guidelines are in place for ladders and aerial lifts. Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that employers provide reasonable protection against cold weather, snow, ice and similar hazardous conditions.

Taking precautions during holiday season may reduce injuries

During the holiday season in Illinois, many stores hire temporary employees to keep up with the increased number of shoppers. Employees may work additional hours and have an increased workload as they deliver purchases to customers, stock shelves and sell merchandise. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers to ensure that precautions are taken to keep workers safe and that the proper steps are taken to make sure that employees are paid the correct amount on payday.

According to a study done by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the additional hours and increased workload may increase the stress of employees, which may lead to declines in health. The NIOSH study reported that in 2016, 24 percent of employees said that their work interferes with their family and personal obligations. This stress may lead to injuries while on the job.

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