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Articles Posted in Work Injuries

It is not uncommon for employees to become injured while on the job. An injury or illness is considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work place caused or contributed to the resulting condition or aggravated a pre-existing condition. Workers in the manufacturing industry, especially factory workers, are more likely than many others to experience a work injury.

As of 2015, the State of Illinois had 568,500 manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs are located in more urban areas, but some factories do still call the Chicago area home. Despite the number of manufacturing jobs in Illinois being smaller compared to near-by states, on-the-job injuries and illness rates in Illinois are statistically greater than the national rate according to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL).

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Workers in Chicago often take on tasks without a second thought. They show up on time, do their job, and then go home, all to support themselves and their families. And in exchange for their efforts, these workers are compensated with wages and in some cases additional benefits by their employers which make the time spent on the job worthwhile.

But what happens when something goes wrong at the workplace? This is a scenario that construction workers in Chicago know all too well as there are numerous incidents on construction sites each year involving employees. Often, those incidents result in injuries to the workers who are involved or to others who may be on the site at the time, potentially leading to the need for medical treatment and time missed from work.
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Year after year, workers in the State of Illinois find themselves blindsided when they get hurt while working. Some are employed in industries that have danger readily present, including those in the construction industry, those working an assembly line position, and those who deal with heavy machinery. Others are employed in industries where threats may be less obvious like office jobs, sales positions, or even telemarketers.

The type of job that you work does not affect whether you have rights if you are involved in a work injury. Rather, the laws in the Chicago area are clear: if you are on-the-job and performing your duties, you have the right to seek relief for the harm done to you. This means you can get the medical treatment you need to become well again and have that treatment paid for by your employer. It also means that you are entitled to be paid for time you miss from work due to your injuries including the time you miss during a recovery period. You also may be entitled to a bodily injury settlement to address the totality of your damages once your injuries and harm have been ascertained.

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Workers in Chicago face a myriad of threats to their personal safety every day they are on the job. From heavy machinery to falling products, slip-and-falls to car accidents, the unfortunate reality is that workers in Illinois are hurt while working every week, leaving them to suffer from the damage of an injury and to deal with the harm that accompanies the accidents.

At the federal level, workplace safety is overseen and monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), a division of the Department of Labor. Through work site inspections, regulations, and promulgations, OSHA attempts to keep things as safe as possible for American workers and to punish employers who allow dangerous conditions to exist unnecessarily. Recently, OSHA announced that the fines it assesses to negligent employers will be increasing, a welcomed sign from many in the employment industry who believe that financial risks are the only way to keep employers responsible with their conduct.

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Any job poses certain risks to the employees who perform them, even if those jobs seem routine or possible mundane. Certain field and types of work are more dangerous than others and those who are employed in construction, healthcare settings, the airline industry, and factory workers are some who face harm on a regular basis. But what happens when risk turns to incident and a worker finds herself injured? If the accident happened in Illinois, the victims are protected by state law which enables them to seek relief for their damages. In a typical claim, damages may include things like the medical treatment needed to get well, any medical treatment reasonable believed to be necessary in the future, lost wages, pain and suffering, and inconvenience to those involved.

While the ability to recover is a substantial right of victims, it is in everyone’s best interests to prevent and eliminate as many work injuries as possible so that these employees never become victims in the first place. To do that, it is helpful to know what types of injuries plague workers with the greatest frequency so steps can be taken to avoid those incidents.

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Construction is major business in the Chicago area and all across the state, for that matter. New buildings, roads, infrastructure changes, and open spaces are always being crafted, designed, and put into action, necessitating the help from the men and women who make their livings in construction. The general public understands that there is some amount of risk associated with this profession, but few people truly grasp what may be at risk if you work in the field.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that construction workers had nearly a three times greater risk for dying on the job than did the average employee in the United States. Similarly, during this same time period, 4.3 of every 100 construction workers employed were injured while working and construction laborers were the 7th highest group to miss days away from work due to work injuries.

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According to national statistics, more than three million workers suffer from an on-the-job injury or an illness every single year in America. Unfortunately, many of those victims live in or work in Chicago, a densely populated area that houses millions of workers daily. Injuries not only affect these workers but also their family members, loved ones, friends, and employers who find themselves shorthanded while a victim recovers. It is in everyone’s best interests to make workplaces as safe as possible and to reduce or eliminate as many work injuries as practicable.

A branch of the U.S. Department of Labor is charged with establishing basic safety guidelines at work site and with monitoring and, where appropriate, sanctioning conduct among employers if deemed to go against its rules. That branch, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), also requires many employers to gather information related to the injuries of their workers so that the information can be reviewed, analyzed, and new guidelines can be issued if reasonable to increase safety.

Until recently, data related to individual employers and their safety records was not widely available but thanks to a pending rule change by OSHA, that will change in the coming months.

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Any type of employee can be hurt in a workplace accident in Chicago, but some are more likely than others to suffer from harm. Among them, those who work in construction or near a construction site are particularly likely to be involved in incidents that cause injuries and damages to the workers themselves. Construction zones present a mix of activities and often a fast-paced environment, leading to incidents where mistakes or errors may result. If a worker is operating heavy machinery and uses poor judgment, that worker may injure herself and others on the site and those injuries may have a profound effect on those involved, their loved ones, and their friends.

Under the laws in Illinois, it is the duty of every employer – regardless of what industry is at issue – to provide a safe work environment, or as safe as possible if the job is one with inherent risk. This can mean things like properly training and certifying employees, having safety seminars, following local guidelines and OSHA regulations, and simply making sure that employees are not forced to risk themselves while they work. Failing to do so may make a job site unnecessarily risky and may be against the law.

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What are your rights if you are hurt on the job while in Chicago? There are laws in place to protect injured workers, to help them recover, and to enable them to move forward financially in the event that a workplace accident happens, but the laws may not always provide enough protection. With regularity, lawyers hear stories about employees who were mistreated or even terminated following a work injury though those actions are contrary to both public policy and state law.

Now, a recent study out of Harvard University is lending support to the idea that injured workers are more likely to lose their jobs than those who are never hurt while working. The study involved questioning 1,331 nursing home employees who worked in nursing facilities on the east coast over an 18 month period. Through the surveys, participants were asked to disclose whether they were injured, what their employment status was at the time, and whether they had changed employment since the prior survey. Shockingly, at the one year mark of the study, 30 percent of participants reported that they had been injured at work and roughly 25 percent reported at least one job change by the time the study concluded at 18 months.

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In a city the size of Chicago, there is a constant need for construction. Whether it is repair work to the existing roads, the erection of new buildings, or even retrofitting existing structures, construction is happening twelve months a year in this area and is the source of countless jobs. Construction is needed for the city to flourish but it also can be a safety hazard, placing those who are employed to do the work in dangerous situations that may lead to an on-the-job accident.

In 2014, 4,679 workers lost their lives in job accidents in the nation. That averages out to nearly 90 deaths per week or more than 13 deaths per day. Not only did these victims lose their lives but the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones suffered from these accidents as well, losing important members of their families and of our community and being forced to pick up the pieces after a tragic incident. Of all the deaths in the nation, the vast majority of them – 4,251 – occurred in private industry, and among those, construction workers were at particularly high risks for fatalities. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”), 874 of the private industry fatalities happened in construction settings which is just over 20 percent of all private industry deaths, or one out of every five fatalities.

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