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Chicago Workers' Compensation Blog

Employers must guard machines to comply with OSHA rules

Plant employees in Illinois and throughout the nation typically run machines that have many moving parts. In some cases, these parts can get warm or hot as they move. Therefore, workers may be at risk of getting burned or having clothing caught in the machines that they run. To mitigate this risk, OSHA has developed a series of machine guarding rules that must be followed by employers.

The types of machines that should be guarded include power saws, mills and power presses. In addition, jointers, forming rolls and portable power tools may need to be guarded. The types of guards that employers can choose from include electronic devices, physical barriers and two-hand tripping devices. Guards can either be adjusted by an employee or designed to adjust themselves. Employers are required to place a guard around any item that transmits power and is 7 feet or less from a floor or platform.

NIOSH fact sheet focuses on construction fall prevention

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers. An average of 310 die every year in falls while 10,350 are seriously injured. Construction employers in Illinois who wish to do something about this trend should consult the fact sheet that was released by NIOSH. It covers roof, scaffold and ladder safety and can help prepare for the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

Roof workers are at an especially high risk since the majority of roof falls, 86%, occur in construction. Employers should have a fall protection program in place, ensure proper training and proper PPE, make use of the buddy system and monitor the weather for high winds and other hazards.

Re-opening a worker’s compensation claim

Workers' compensation claims can provide the support you need to recover from an on-the-job injury, but the injury does not always heal the way you or your doctor expects. In some cases, injured workers or insurers find it necessary to re-open a claim to address complications that the initial settlement failed to resolve.

If you suspect that your workers' compensation claim deserves a second look, it is wise to review it. Re-opening a claim can take time and effort, but if your original settlement truly failed to address the recovery of the injury, then it is worth looking at your options.

Reducing construction risks with AI

An average of 14 construction workers die every day while on the job, according to federal statistics. Accident deaths are five times more likely in the construction industry than in any other work sector. The amount of struck-by deaths in construction has also risen 34% in the last 10 years. Illinois residents might like to know about some of the methods used by artificial intelligence technology that could make the construction industry safer.

Almost 40% of deaths in the construction field happen because of falls and other surprise injuries. To reduce surprises, cameras using AI technology can be deployed at construction sites to capture footage and analyze data. AI can view images and highlight safety risks faster than humans can. In a competition between humans and AI software, the software assessed 1,080 photos for safety risks in five minutes while humans needed more than five hours for the same job.

Reducing risk through workplace safety culture

Many Illinois business owners believe that they can keep their workers safe as long as they follow established safety procedures, but this is not necessarily the case. This is where shifting from a safety-minded workplace culture to a risk-minded one can help reduce accidents. For example, instead of saying that all incidents are preventable, owners should emphasize the fact that all risks cannot be eliminated.

All too often, workers leave safety concerns up to the company. If owners were to focus on risk, though, workers will understand their own role in identifying and communicating hazards while on the job. Owners should make sure to train workers on these duties. At the same time, they should strive for a bottom-up approach, fostering a trusting relationship with workers rather than issuing orders from the top down.

Researchers and lab workers at risk for Zika

Illinois residents who work in lab and biomedical facilities should be aware of the risk of contracting the Zika virus. The year 2015 saw more than 42,000 cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the United States. However, this infection rate has gone down, and there is currently no local transmission of the disease in the U.S.

Much has been done to stop the spread of the virus using mosquito control methods. While this has protected the general public from the virus, individuals who work with the virus in a lab setting should know the risks of contracting the illness. Between 2016 and 2017, three incidences were reported where individuals working in laboratories were exposed to Zika. In only one of the cases did the individual test positive for the virus and begin to show symptoms of it.

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.

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