Posted On: November 26, 2008

Ergonomic Injuries Account for 29% of Work Injuries Requiring Time Off to Recover

According to the US. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 333,760 musculoskeletal disorder work injury cases requiring a median nine days off from work. While there were 23,400 less MSD cases in 2007 than in 2006, MSDs, also called ergonomic injuries, continue to be a leading cause of work injuries. Other terms used to refer to MSDs include cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), repetitive motion injury (RMI), and repetitive stress injury (RSI).

Examples of ergonomic injuries include illnesses or injuries affecting the body’s tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, cartilage, tendons, or spinal discs. Symptoms may include, joint soreness, back issues, and pain in the arms, neck, or shoulders.

Ergonomic issues impact workers in most fields. Common causes of MSDs include:

• Repetitive tasks
• Heavy lifting
• Incorrect posture
• Work areas that are not ergonomic-friendly
• Improper lifting

Cumulative exposure to such risk factors can cause MSDs and eventually lead to traumatic injury, including disability. MSDs can impair the workers’ ability to do their job, perform normal physical tasks, or maintain a life that is pain- or discomfort- free.

Employers are supposed to make sure that their workers’ environment are set up to protect employees from sustaining MSDs. Steps should also be taken to make workers aware of bad habits they may be engaging in that could increase their chances of ergonomic injuries.

In Illinois, most workers with ergonomic-related injuries are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Pain Game: Preventing MSDs, Incident Prevention

Related Web Resource:
Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders, CDC

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Posted On: November 25, 2008

US Department of Labor, Reporting A Decline in Work Injuries and Illnesses in 2007, Credits OSHA

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting a decline in the number of work illnesses and injuries that occurred between 2006 and 2007. Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Thomas M. Stohler attributes this decline to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s commitment to safety in the workplace.

Stohler says that because of OSHA’s training, educational programs, regulations, data sharing, aggressive enforcement, and cooperative efforts, companies are experiencing 50% less workday injuries, and their illness and injury rates are now 53% lower than the industry’s average.

Also, from 2003 to 2007, the number of illnesses and injuries requiring workers to take time off from work dropped by 11.9%. Last year’s rate was 122/10,000 full-time workers—4% lower than in 2006.

More 2007 Nonfatal Occupational Illness and Injuries Facts:

• There were 44,930 occupational injury and illness cases involving nursing aides, attendants, and orderlies taking time off from work to recover.
• With 79,000 injury and illnesses cases, there were more laborers and material, stock, and freight movers who took time off from work than workers in other industries.
• Strains and sprains were two of the most common occupational injuries.
• There were 11,940 carpal tunnel injury cases last year.
• The human trunk was body part most affected by work injuries.
• Fall accidents continue to be a common cause of work injuries.
• Most fracture cases required workers to take a few weeks off from work.
• Workers age 65 and older tend to take the longest periods of time off from work to recover from occupational injuries.
• Truck drivers, janitors, welders, and construction employee are among the groups of employees with the most nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses.

OSHA Programs Contribute to Reduced Injury and Illness Rates for 2007, Grainnet.com

Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2007, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related Web Resources:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

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Posted On: November 23, 2008

Former Railroad Worker Files Illinois Personal Injury Lawsuit Against Ex-Employee for Ulnar Nerve Syndrome and Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In St. Clair County Circuit Court, Doug Newton filed an Illinois injury lawsuit against BNSF Railway Company for work injuries he sustained as an employee. Newton cited bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve syndrome, mental anguish, disability, and severe pain as his injuries.

Newton started working as a welder and a trackman for the railroad company in 1994. He says that his work responsibilities with BNSF Railway Company caused his injuries. He is also claiming lost wages, medical expenses, and a diminished earning capacity.

Newton is accusing his former employer of negligence due to the railroad company’s alleged failure to provide him with a safe work environment, the proper work equipment and tools, the proper manpower, the proper training, and the proper supervision, as well as the failure to warn him that he was risking cumulative trauma. He is seeking over $100,000 plus legal costs.

Railroad Injury Cases
Illinois railroad workers are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Rather, a railroad employee must prove his or her case under the Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA). The worker must prove that his or her work injuries were at least partially caused by the railroad company or another affiliated party. A worker can bring its injury claim to the responsible party or file the claim in state or federal court.

Common Railroad Worker Injuries include:

• Head injuries
• Neck injuries
• Back injuries
• Hearing loss
• Train accident injuries
• Railroad equipment injuries
• Slip and fall injuries
• Neurological disorders
• Carpal tunnel syndrome

Railroad worker claims carpal tunnel syndrome, St. Clair Record, November 3, 2008

Related Web Resources:

FELA Quick Facts

Injured Railway Workers: Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), Justia

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Posted On: November 21, 2008

Illinois Chemical Plant Poses Asbestos Risk for Workers Following Chemical Leak

An agreement has been reached between Blue Island Phenol LLC and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to keep an Alsip phenol manufacturing unit closed until experts can figure out how equipment failures lead to a fire and chemical leak at the facility. The Illinois work incident happened in August after a power failure at the plant caused a loss in fuel that was used for cooling and providing circulation in the unit. This caused a fire to break out at the chemical plant, which disturbed the asbestos.

The potential for airborne asbestos is very likely. There also may be asbestos contamination in the groundwater and soil near the site, as well as some phenol contamination.

Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure can increase the chances of lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural disorders, mesothelioma, and other illnesses. Mesothelioma’s latency period is anywhere from 15-50 years.

In the United States, some 8 million people in the United States have experienced asbestos exposure. Many US workers, including insulators, sheet metal employees, electricians, auto mechanics, and cement finishers, continue to risk exposure to asbestos. In Illinois, workers who were exposed to asbestos should explore their workers’ compensation and personal injury options.

The chemicals that were released at the Illinois manufacturing unit contaminated approximately 1 million gallons of water. In Cook County Circuit Court in September, Attorney General Madigan filed her complaint against Blue Island Phenol accusing the company of water and air pollution, failure to operate the unit in a manner that minimized the release of hazardous substances, and causing danger to the environment.

As part of the agreement with Attorney General Madigan, Blue Island Phenol will retain the services of licensed engineers to determine the degree of contamination. All areas where exposure to asbestos or any other hazardous materials may occur must be cordoned off, and a licensed abatement contractor must properly dispose of any materials that contain asbestos. Repairs and modifications to the phenol manufacturing unit must also be made before operations can resume there.

Phenol Unit at Alsip Plant Closed Until Cause of Chemical Release and FIre Detected, Illinois Attorney General

AG: Don't reopen Alsip plant, Southtownstar.com, November 14, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Asbestos Exposure, National Cancer Institute

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Posted On: November 20, 2008

Two Men Are Dead and Five Workers Are Injured in Illinois Oil Well Blast

Investigators in Illinois have identified the two men who died in an oil well blast last month. Using DNA samples and dental records, they confirmed that Albion Attorney Samuel Lee Fieber and West Salem worker Ronald Alldredge died from injuries they sustained in the explosion.

Kevin Alldredge, Ronald’s son and a Grayville rig hand, survived the blast but sustained burn injuries. Four other workers also were burned in the blast.

One worker, 38-year-old Browns resident Glen Isles, sustained first-, second-, and third-degree burns over different parts of his body. He was induced into a coma and placed on a ventilator. Isles is expected to undergo months of medical treatment to recover from his injuries. Brad Cunningham, an Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals well inspector, and Grayville worker Scott Funkhouser also suffered burn injuries.

The well that exploded belongs to French Creek Oil Co., which is owned by Fieber and his father V. Louis. This is the second time that an explosion has occurred at the well. The first blast accident took place 12 years ago. This latest blast occurred on October 29 while workers from Mason Well Servicing were cementing a finished well.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the work accident.

Oil Industry Accidents
Working at an oil well or an oil field can be a dangerous job that can lead to catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 598 workers died while working on oil and gas fields between 2002 and 2007.

Common Oil Worker Accidents include:

• Fall accident
• Crush accidents
• Explosions
• Equipment-related accidents
• Motor vehicle accidents
• Well blasts, fires, and head blowout accidents

Illinois workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

Men who died in Illinois oil well explosion identified, CourierPress.com, October 31, 2008

Oil well explosion kills 2, injures 5 in Illinois, Examiner.com, October 29, 2008

Worker Deaths Rise as Oil and Gas Drilling Booms; Inexperience and Drugs are Blamed, ABC 26, September 10, 2008

Related Web Resources:

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Posted On: November 19, 2008

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Issues its Annual Report for 2007

According to statistics from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Annual Report of Operations for 2007, 56,685 workers’ compensation cases were filed with the commission last year. This figure includes new claims filed and pro se settlements. A pro se settlement occurs when the worker settles a case directly with the employer and without hiring an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer.

According to the report, some 250,000 work accidents take place in the state of Illinois each year. However, only injuries that require a worker to take time off from work for at least three days can be reported to the Commission. Each year, employers in Illinois report some 80,000 work injuries that fulfill this criterion. About 60,000 of these cases usually result in formal complaints.

Most workers’ compensation cases filed with the Illinois Commission are settled with the help of a workers’ compensation attorney. Only 3,644 cases were settled in formal arbitration last year. The Illinois Commission disposed of 60,681 claims through settlements, decisions, or dismissals.

Injuries to the head, neck, eyes, back, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, feet, legs, knees, toes, and body systems were among the work injuries reported in 2007. Common kinds of work accidents resulting in injuries include (based on 2005 statistics):

• Fall accidents
• Overexertion
• Slip and fall accidents
• Trip and fall accidents
• Fires
• Explosions
• Repetitive motion
• Accidents involving work equipment or objects
• Exposure to hazardous substances
• Sexual assault
• Violent crimes
• Work-related illnesses and diseases

FY2007 Annual Report, Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (PDF)

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

Related Web Resource:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

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Posted On: November 14, 2008

Man’s Leg is Amputated Following Illinois Work Accident

A worker at an Illinois manufacturing company had his leg amputated after he was injured in a machinery accident. 19-year-old Dustin Stone’s leg got caught in a large machine on Monday at Central Illinois Truss.

It took emergency workers almost an hour to free him. The 6-foot-tall, 15-foot wide machinery that presses metal connecting plates into the wood trusses had to be disassembled.

Machinery Accidents
Operating large machinery at work can be a hazardous part of one’s job and may result in serious injuries when an accident occurs. Machinery accidents is a major cause of injuries and death in industrial workplaces.

Limb loss, crushed body parts, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, disfigurement, internal injuries, and death are among the more catastrophic injuries that can occur.

Common Causes of Machinery-Related Accidents
• Defective machines
• Machinery malfunction
• Hazardous substance leaks
• Poor maintenance
• Inadequate safety measures

Many machinery accidents occur while a worker is operating, cleaning, or performing maintenance on the machinery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• In 2001, .2/out of 100,000 people died from injuries they sustained in machinery accidents.
• 544 people died in machinery accidents that year.

In Illinois, even if your employer was grossly negligent in causing your work accident, you cannot sue your employer for personal injury because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides employers immunity from employee injury-related lawsuits. There are, however, steps that you can take to make sure that you receive all workers' compensation benefits you are owed. There also may be third parties that can be held liable for your personal injuries.

Man in Fair Condition In Work-Related Accident, Central Illinois Proud.com, November 11, 2008

Co-worker helps save young Deer Creek man's life, PJStar.com, November 13, 2008

Statistics About Machinery Accidents, Wrong Diagnosis

Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Act

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Posted On: November 12, 2008

Chicago Heights Worker Dies In Construction Accident

In Chicago Heights, a steelworker died on Monday morning when he was crushed by heavy equipment at a steel plant. Heladio Ramirez was operating a radio-controlled crane when, after he raised the crane as high as it would go, a cable broke. This caused the block and spreader to fall some 25 feet and strike the 32-year-old Calumet City resident on the leg, hip, and head. Ramirez, who was a steel bundler and loader at Highway Steel, was transported to St. James Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Steelworker Accidents
Workers at steel plants are exposed to numerous hazards on the job. This is why it is important that steel plants and employers put in place and implement the proper safety procedures. Workers must also be made to undergo the necessary training so that they can do their jobs safely.

Examples of Steelworker Accidents

• Fall accidents
Crush accidents
• Exposure to hazardous substances, such as acid mist
• Machinery and equipment-related accidents
• Ergonomic vibration-related accidents

Injuries at steel plants can be catastrophic and may include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, severed limbs, cardiovascular disease, other work-related illnesses, and death.

A steelworker with a catastrophic injury may no longer be able to work, which could seriously affect his or her ability to support family members. Also, doctor visits, surgeries, and other medical services can be very expensive. This is why it is so important that you avail of your workers’ compensation benefits so that your medical bills are covered.

Chicago Heights steelworker killed by crane, Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2008

Illinois steel worker crushed to death, WANDTV.com, November 12, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Structural Iron and Steel Worker Safety, State Compensation Insurance Fund

The Steelworker Perspective on Behavioral Safety

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Posted On: November 11, 2008

Lawsuit Filed by Workers Who Were Denied Compensation Can Proceed Against Illinois Trucking Company and Insurer

The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that the lawsuit filed by six workers who were denied compensation can proceed against Illinois-based trucking company Cassens Transport Co, Dr. Saul Margules, and insurance claims adjuster Crawford & Co. The suit accuses the defendants of wire fraud, mail fraud, and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations. Following the court’s ruling, the case can now proceed to district court.

According to the plaintiffs, the defendants engaged in a scheme to deny the employees their workers’ compensation benefits. The workers say that they were purposely sent to unqualified physicians, such as Margules, who issued bogus medical opinions and ignored relevant medical evidence so that they could deny injured workers their compensation benefits. The workers are also accusing Cassens Transport and claims adjuster Crawford of participating in fraudulent communications by mail and wire.

The case was initially dismissed in district court in 2005, with the 6th Circuit Court of appeals upholding US District Judge Borman’s decision. However, the US Supreme Court returned the case to the 6th circuit earlier in 2008 because of a ruling it made in a case involving similar issues related to alleged fraud.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation
Although workers are supposed to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job, there are situations when an employer or the insurance company might refuse to authorize payment or delay providing an injured worker compensation. In the event that a workers' compensation dispute arises, there are legal remedies available to injured workers, including arbitration before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, as well as an appeals process that allows injured workers to take their claims to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Workers comp suit against trucking firm can proceed, Detnews.com, October 24, 2008

Appeals court reinstates workers lawsuit against trucking firm, DetNews.com, October 23, 2008


Related Web Resources:

Read the Circuit Court Ruling (PDF)

Cassens

Crawford and Company

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

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Posted On: November 7, 2008

Five Chicago Firefighters Injured When Fire Engine Catches Fire During Motor Vehicle Accident

In Chicago, five fire fighters, a female driver, and her 6-year-old daughter were injured on Thursday following a collision involving a fire engine and another motor vehicle. The fire engine caught fire during the crash and rammed into a building in the Old Town Neighborhood of the Near North Side.

According to Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford, Engine No. 4 was headed toward a fire when the collision happened at the intersection of Wells and Division Streets. All seven accident victims were taken to local hospitals. The fire engine and the building it crashed into reportedly sustained serious damage. Fortunately, the building is under renovation and there were no occupants at the time of the crash.

Firefighter Injuries
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
• There were 36 firefighter fatalities that occurred at fire scenes in 2007.
• 44,210 firefighters sustained injuries at fire scenes in 2006.
• There were 7 firefighter deaths at non-fire job scenes in 2007.
• 13,090 firefighter injuries occurred at such scenes in 2006.

Common kinds of firefighter injuries:
• Burn injuries
• Traffic collision-related injuries
• Cuts
• Bruises
• Wounds
• Muscular pain
• Strains
• Pains
• Heart Attacks (often caused by stress) is a leading cause of firefighter fatalities.

In Illinois, firefighters are entitled to workers' compensation in the event of injury or death.

8 injured in fire engine crash, Chicago Tribune, November 6, 2008

Several People, Firefighters Injured In Engine Crash In Old Town, WBBM, November 6, 2008

Related Web Resource:

Firefighters' Workers' Compensation

Chicago Fire Department (PDF)

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Posted On: November 5, 2008

Contract Worker Dies in Accident at Illinois Power Plant

Federal workplace safety officials are investigating a deadly work accident at the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative Marion Generating Plant involving a contract worker who was killed while working with a crew to replace an air heater. Mike Morgan died early Friday morning after he slipped, fell, and got caught between stationary equipment and a rotating, 80-ton heater.

Morgan was employed by Scheck Industrial Corporation. He was part of a group of employees who were hired to help with an unusually big outage at the plant. According to Scheck Industrial Corporation president, Randy Peach, the plant emergency response team arrived at the accident scene within minutes after Morgan was injured but were unable to revive him. Morgan was pronounced dead at the accident scene. Scheck officials and Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating the cause of the deadly work accident.

Power Plant Injuries
Working at a power plant can be a dangerous place for employees. Common work injuries at power plants include electric current-related injuries, falls from great hights, and equipment- related injuries.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
If a worker is killed while on the job, his or her widow or widower and children are entitled to death benefits. While the minimum weekly rate that surviving family members can receive is $441.93, the maximum weekly rate for death benefits is $1,178.48/week with a maximum of $500,000 or for no more than 25 years.

To ensure that you receive the maximum amount of death benefits that you and your family are owed, it is important that you consult with an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer who is experienced in dealing with work accidents and understands Illinois’s workers’ compensation law.

Workplace Accident Kills Worker At Power Plant, News Talk AM70, November 1, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Southern Illinois Power Cooperative

Scheck Industrial Corporation

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Posted On: November 3, 2008

Illinois Construction Worker and Semi-Truck Driver are Injured in Illinois Motor Vehicle Accident

In Illinois, a Wheeling construction worker suffered serious injuries after he was hit by an SUV on Route 45, just outside Vernon Hills. Felipe Ibarra is being treated at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville for head injuries.

The accident happened on Tuesday morning at the Majestic Pines division. A flagger was directing traffic so that a semi-truck could back into the construction site entrance when 17-year-old Jessica Wells struck Ibarra with her GMC Yukon XL. She also struck the truck. The truck driver, Chicago resident Juan Muro, was treated at Condell for non-life threatening injuries.

Wells was charged with driving with an obstructed windshield, failing to stop for a flagger, and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident. She was not injured in the accident.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act
In Illinois, employers must pay their injured workers two-thirds of their regular income, tax-free, while they take time off from work to recover. Injured employees are also entitled to full medical coverage. Also, depending on the nature and extent of injuries, an employer's insurer must provide benefits for permanent and temporary disabilities—both total and partial.

Unfortunately, employees and their insurance companies do not always deal with injured workers in a fair manner. The best way to ensure that you get all of the benefits that you and your family are owed is to speak with a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer who can advocate for your rights.

Construction worker hit by SUV, Suburban Chicago News.com, October 29, 2008


Related Web Resources:

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, Illinois General Assembly

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