Posted On: December 31, 2008

Foreign-Born US Workers Have Lower Non-Fatal Work Injuries than US-Born Workers, Says New Study

Recent findings from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital shows that foreign-born workers in the US have a lower rate of sustaining non-fatal work injuries than their US-born counterparts. However, foreign-born workers tended to sustain more serious injuries that require hospitalization and at least 6-days off from work.

The study, funded by U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, also took a look at non-fatal work injuries as a whole. The highest rate of work-related injuries for both foreign-born workers and US-born workers occurred in the construction agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and fisheries industries. For both US-born workers and workers born outside the US, the two most common causes of work-related injuries were fall accidents and injuries caused by overexertion.

Dr. Huiayan Xiang, the lead investigator at Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, has noted how important it is address the safety issues facing foreign-born workers so occupational safety guidelines could be developed to help decrease their work injury accidents.

According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

• Foreign-born workers make up 15.7% of the US civilian labor force.
• In 2007, there were 24 million foreign-born workers employed in this country.

The US Department of Labor defines “foreign-born” as people living in the United States who were born outside the country to parents who were not US citizens. Foreign-born workers include legal immigrants, temporary workers, other temporary residents, refugees, and illegal immigrants.

Regardless of your citizenship, if you are a worker injured in Illinois or anywhere else in the United States, there is a good chance that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Workplace Injury Rates Lower for Foreign-born Workers, Study Finds, Insurance Journal, December 24, 2008

Labor Force Characteristics of Foreign-Born Workers Summary, US Department of Labor, March 26, 2008


Related Web Resources:

Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital

U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

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Posted On: December 29, 2008

Commonwealth Edison Worker Dies of Electrical Burn Injuries from Chicago Work Accident

A Commonwealth Worker who suffered electrical bun injuries while working in a manhole on June 6 has died. Alejandro Collazzo was 38 years old.

The Chicago work accident took place in the Austin neighborhood around 2:30am while Collazo was trying to make repairs following an earlier electrical outage. An “electrical flash” happened, resulting in what may have been a combination of explosion and fire.

The electrical discharge is believed to have come from another electrical line and not the one that the ComEd worker was repairing. An investigation ruled out human error as a contributing factor. Following the accident, Collazo was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition. He was later admitted to Loyola University Medical Center’s burn division. He was pronounced dead on December 9.

Electrical Burns
Electrical burns can occur when the body’s tissues or bones come into contact with electricity. These types of burns can be minor, such as 1st degree burns to the skin, or they can be more severe, such as 2nd degree or 3rd degree burns. Electrical burns can also cause internal damage to the human body.

Electrical burns are just one kind of injury caused by exposure to electricity. Two other kinds of shock-related burn injuries are the arc burn and the thermal contact burn. An arc burn is an injury that can occur to someone who has been exposed to high temperatures created by an electric blast or arc. A person may suffer a thermal contact burn after coming into contact with certain kinds of hot surfaces.

Electrical burn injuries can be very painful. Depending on the severity of the injuries, they can require multiple medical procedures that are very costly. If you sustained your electrical burn injury in a Chicago work accident, you are likely entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

ComEd Worker Burned In Manhole In June Dies, CBS2, December 10, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Electrical Burns

Burns and Other Injuries, OSHA

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Posted On: December 24, 2008

Construction Worker Dies and 18 Others are Injured in Botanical Garden Accident

A major construction accident at the Atlanta Botanical Garden left one worker dead and 18 others injured. The work accident occurred on Friday morning as crews poured concrete on Canopy Walk when part of the walkway collapsed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the cause of the deadly work accident. A preliminary autopsy report found that worker Angel Chupin died due to blunt force injuries. Chupin was 66. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries were among the serious injuries suffered by the other workers. All of the injury victims are Hispanic and in their 20’s and 30’s.

On Tuesday, four of the construction workers who suffered serious injuries were transported to the Shepherd Center’s ICU. According to Dr. Donald Leslie, the victims either have brain damage or are partially paralyzed. At least 8 medical workers will be tasked with providing medical care for each patient.

In addition to Hardin Construction Co, the other companies charged with concrete-related tasks for the walkway are subcontractors Pioneer Concrete Pumping Inc., SDC Concrete Construction, and Forta Corp.

Catastrophic Injuries
Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are very serious kinds of injuries that can alter a victim’s life forever. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person may become paralyzed for life, end up in a coma or brain dead, or lose the ability to perform regular activities due to loss of muscle control or the ability to communicate or understand language. SCI’s and TBI’s usually require specialized, costly medical care.

If your loved one suffered a catastrophic injury or died during an Illinois construction accident, not only are you entitled to workers’ compensation benefits but you may also be able to recover damages from liable third parties.

Botanical garden accident kills 1, injures 18, AJC, December 19, 2008

4 hurt at Botanical Garden moved to Shepherd Center, AJC, December 22, 2008


Related Web Resource:

OSHA

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Posted On: December 23, 2008

Undocumented Workers are Entitled to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Says State Appeals Court

The llinois’ 1st Judicial District Appellate Court says that Illegal immigrants who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even though they are not legally allowed to work in the United States. The state appeals’ court’s ruling is in accordance with the rulings issued by appeals courts in other US states that hold that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not prevent undocumented workers from receiving work benefits if they are injured on the job.

According to Economy Packing Co. v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Mexican national Ramona Navarro got hurt during a slip accident when she was working on an assembly line in May 2002. Through arbitration, she was awarded $147/week for 60 weeks for her temporary total disability. She was also awarded permanent total disability benefits at $371/week for the remainder of her life.

The arbitrator determined that Navarro was an “odd-lot” worker, meaning that her disabilities, coupled with her limited skills, would keep her from finding work in the future. To qualify for permanent disability benefits as an “odd-lot” worker, the injured worker must show that age, experience, education, or training prevents her from obtaining work.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and a trial court agreed with the arbitrator. However, Economy Packing Co. appealed the decision. The company said that undocumented workers can never be employed whether or not they have disabilities because they are not allowed to work in the US.

The Illinois appeals court disagreed with Economy Packing. The court found that even though Navarro cannot legally work in the US, she could have obtained work outside the country if she hadn’t suffered her permanent disability injuries.

A catastrophic or permanent injury sustained during an Illinois work accident could prevent you from being able to work in the future and support your family. If you are an illegal alien who was injured on the job while working in Illinois or another US state, do not be afraid to explore your legal options for compensation.

Ruling Allows Comp Benefits for Undocumented Immigrant, Workforce Management, December 16, 2008

Read the Court's Opinion (PDF)


Related Web Resources:

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

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Posted On: December 21, 2008

Former Madison City Employee Says He Was Fired After Receiving Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits

A former worker for the city of Madison, Illinois, says he was fired because he filed a claim for workers’ compensation. He was discharged after receiving his benefits.

Courtney Burrell, a bobcat worker, say he was injured on September 14, 2007 when he was hit by a live electrical wire while clearing debris from a stand-alone garage that had been demolished. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and was paid his benefits.

On December 12, 2007, the city of Madison fired him because he allegedly did not have a valid driver’s license. Burrell says no one told him that he needed an Illinois CDL and he had been using his Missouri commercial driver’s license. After he was let go, he obtained an Illinois CDL.

Burrell filed his Illinois lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court. He is seeking over $50,000 plus costs and other relief.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation
As an Illinois worker injured on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from your employer without fear of reprisals. An Illinois employer is supposed to pay for all necessary medical services that an injured worker needs to recover or obtain relief from the disease or injury. The employer must also reimburse the Illinois worker of any wages lost from time taken off from work to heal.

While at-will employment allows an employer to fire a worker for no reason or any reason, there are certain reasons for why an employee cannot be fired an employer. In Illinois, exercising one’s rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act by filing a workers’ compensation claim is one of them.

Madison employee claims he was fired after getting workers' comp., Madison County Record, December 15, 2008


Related Web Resources:

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

City of Madison

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Posted On: December 19, 2008

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Workers’ Injury and Death Lawsuits in McClugage Bridge Case

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court resolved an issue about worker’ lawsuits resulting from work injuries and deaths when it issued its decision in the McClugage Bridge case. The case involves the deaths of three McClugage Bridge workers during a 2000 Illinois work accident.

Companies Midwest Foundation and Halvorson Construction Co. had joined together to rehabilitate the McClugage Bridge, which is located in Peoria over the Illinois River. The two companies set up Midwest Foundation/Halvorsan, a joint venture.

On April 24, 2000, scaffolding fell from the bridge, injuring and killing workers. The injured workers and the family members of the workers that died received workers’ compensation benefits. Four of the workers also filed personal injury lawsuits against the joint venture and Halvoran.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s majority opinion found that such lawsuits cannot proceed. Joint venture employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries, but they cannot sue the joint venture or its partners.

There was one dissenting judge out of the seven. Justice Thomas Kilbride said that questions lingered over whether Midwest Foundation was reimbursed for paying for the workers’ compensation premiums and if not, then this could allow for personal injury lawsuits to be brought against the joint venture. Per the joint venture agreement, Midwest Foundation paid for the workers’ compensation insurance premiums, and the joint venture was supposed to reimburse the company.

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, companies are responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers and the surviving family members of employees killed during work accidents. An experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can make sure you receive all of these benefits as soon as possible. Your lawyer can also determine if there are other parties that should be sued for personal injury or wrongful death.

Supreme Court rules on 2000 bridge deaths, PJStar.com, December 18, 2008

Read the Opinion, Illinois Supreme Court


Related Web Resource:

McClugage Bridge, Bridge Hunter

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Posted On: December 18, 2008

Illinois Worker Dies in Schaumburg Machinery Accident

A 28-year-old man died in an Illinois work accident after his head got caught in an automated machine that processes steel. The accident occurred last Friday in Schaumburg at a metal distribution plant.

Brian Jensen was working at the Earle M. Jorgensen Co. when the deadly work accident happened. Co-workers who discovered him administered CPR before he was transported to a Alexian Brothers Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Schaumburg police, and the Cook County medical examiner’s office have been investigating the cause of the machinery accident. On Monday, a Cook County Medical Examiner's Office spokesperson says Jensen died of cranial cerebral injuries from an industrial accident.

The automated machine is operated remotely from a computer. There are big cranes that remove trays with steel from storage shelves. They then put the trays in the machine that was involved in Jensen’s work injury accident. Jensen was alone when the accident happened.

Industrial Machinery Injuries
Machines used on the job can be a cause of serious injury or death if a machinery is defective, not operated properly, or the correct safety precautions are not taken.

Injuries may include:

• Burn injuries
• Chemical burns
• Electrical burns
• Electrocution injuries
• Crushed or broken bones
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Fall injuries
• Spinal cord injuries
• Severed limbs
• Injuries caused by exposure to hazardous substances or toxic chemicals

Schaumburg worker killed on job, Daily Herald, December 13, 2008

Autopsy gives no leads in industrial accident, Pioneerlocal.com, December 15, 2008

Continue reading " Illinois Worker Dies in Schaumburg Machinery Accident " »

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Posted On: December 12, 2008

Chicago Worker Dies From Carbon Monoxide Intoxication

A Chicago worker died last Friday after he was exposed to carbon monoxide in a boiler room at a Des Plaines apartment building. Robert Waszak was discovered after the company he worked for called police to notify them that they couldn’t locate the 63-year-old worker. Des Plaines Fire Chief Randy Jaeger says they found Waszak unresponsive and unconscious following the Illinois work accident.

Jaeger also reported that while investigating Waszak’s death, firefighters heard the sound of a carbon monoxide detector. CO levels of more than 400 parts per million was discovered in one of the buildings. A CO level of 50 is considered normal. Everyone was evacuated from the building.

A 1400 parts per million CO reading was found in the furnace room. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office determined that Waszak’s primary cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. Heart disease was noted as the second cause of death. Waszak had just celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife, who he had been with since they were 5th graders.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 10,000 people a year lose at least one day of regular activity or seek medical help because of CO intoxication.
- 1,500 people die because they were accidentally exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide.
- Exposure to CO can lead to dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, heart palpitations, vomiting, unconsciousness, brain damage, birth defects, and death.

Carbon monoxide is a leading cause of intoxication death.

Employers are supposed to protect their employees from exposure to hazardous substances while on the job. When exposure to CO or another toxic substance causes injury or death, the worker or his or her family may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, there may be other parties that can be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death, such as a property owner, a product manufacturer, or another third party.

Worker dies accidentally from CO fumes, DesPlaines TImes, December 8, 2008

Carbon Monoxide Claims Life Of Worker, Journal & Topics, December 10, 2008

Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Carbon Monoxide Intoxication -- A Preventable Environmental Health Hazard, CDC

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Posted On: December 11, 2008

More Workers Injured or Killed in Construction Fall Accidents

In the last few weeks, more workers were injured or killed in falls during construction accidents. These work accidents are a reminder of how dangerous it can be to work at a construction site and why it is so important that workers receive the proper training, there are safety procedures and precautions that are properly implemented, and any hazards or defective or dangerous conditions are repaired or removed immediately.

In Indiana, a construction worker died on Saturday when he fell in a scaffolding accident while working at a parking garage. The fatal accident occurred while Jose Ramirez was moving a platform. He had disconnected his safety harness and fell 20 feet. Ramirez suffered catastrophic injuries and was pronounced dead soon after the construction accident.

In Colorado, a painter fell 30 feet through an elevator shaft at a home where construction was taking place on November 26. The week before, a worker installing a seventh floor window at a construction site in New York fell onto the concrete when he lost his balance. Rosaulino Montano died from blunt force injuries to the torso, head, and extremities.
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Construction Falls
Fall accidents are the number one cause of construction worker deaths. Common causes of construction fall accidents include:

• Holes in the floor
• Defective scaffolding
• Crane collapses
• Sides without protection
• Openings in walls
• Improperly secured ladders
• Roof falls
• Slip and fall accidents
• Improperly secured harnesses
• Inadequate fall protection

Fall accidents can lead to serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, crushed or broken bones, internal injuries, and death.

Worker killed in fall from scaffold Downtown, IndyStar.com, December 6, 2008

Feds looking into elevator shaft fall at construction site, Coloradoan.com, December 4, 2008

Man dies after fall at F Street construction site, GWHatchet.com, November 20, 2008

Related Web Resource:
Construction Safety, CDC


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Posted On: December 10, 2008

Worker’s Arm and Leg Become Entangled in Machinery During Well-Drilling Accident

A worker had to be airlifted to a hospital on Tuesday after he got pinned to a well-drilling machine. According to the local fire department, the man, 40, was working on the well when he ended up too close to the drill. His clothes got caught in the machine.

Another worker turned the machine off and contacted 911. An emergency team had to saw the well-drilling machine in two to free the trapped worker, who broke his left arm and severely dislocated his left leg. The injured worker, who is employed by mining services company W.R. Grace, is expected to make a full recovery. An investigation into the cause of the work accident is taking place.

Working at a well, doing maintenance or drilling, can be a dangerous job for employees working in the oil and gas fields. Not only are workers exposing themselves to hazardous substances, potential leaks, blowouts, explosions, and machine malfunctions, but they risk sustaining catastrophic injuries from such accidents.

Injuries may include:

• Broken bones
• Head injuries
• Limb loss
• Burn injuries
• Disfigurement
• Spinal cord injuries
• Hearing loss
• Vision loss
• Internal injuries
• Death

It is the responsibility of employers to making sure that their work sites meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety requirements. They are also supposed to enforce proper safety procedures at work, provide workers with the proper training and safety equipment, and act to prevent work accidents and injuries from happening.

As a worker injured on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and there may be third parties that can be held liable for your personal injuries.

Worker injured in well-drilling accident, GoUpstate.com, December 10, 2008

Occupational Safety & Health Administration

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Posted On: December 4, 2008

Illinois Railroad Worker Sues CSX Transportation for Repetitive Trauma Injuries

An Illinois railroad worker is suing CSX Transportation for serious injuries he says he sustained as a machine operator. He filed his railroad injury complaint in Madison County Superior Court.

From 1974 to 2008, Randolph K. Brewer says he was subject to a number of repetitive traumas while fixing railroad bridges and tracks. He claims he suffered permanent and serious injuries that have affected his knees, spine, and body and that he has experienced mental anguish and severe physical pain as a result.

Brewer is seeking over $50,000 plus costs for his injuries, pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity. In his railroad injuries lawsuit, the railroad worker is accusing CSX Transportation of letting unsafe practices become the norm and allowing Brewer to do work that was beyond his physical capacities, as well as work where he could be prone to injuries. Brewer is also accusing CSX of neglecting to provide a safe work environment, adequate manpower, and safe working methods.

Repetitive Motion Injuries
Because of the nature of their jobs, many railroad workers risk sustaining repetitive motion injuries that place severe stress on their bodies and make it hard for them to continue working. Repetitive tasks while the body is placed in awkward positions, forceful, repetitive use of certain body parts, and work that forces the body to be in constant vibration are some of the conditions that can result in railroad workers suffering from repetitive motion injuries.

Bursitis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and osteoarthritis are examples of repetitive motion injuries that can occur while performing railroad-related work duties. These injuries not only cause undo stress on the body, but they can lead to pain and suffering and permanent disabilities.

Railroad companies are supposed to implement the proper safety measures to make sure that workers are not placed in situations that could cause them to sustain injuries. Failure to fulfill this duty of care can be grounds for a railroad injury claim or lawsuit.

Machine operator sues CSX over injuries, The Madison St. Clair Record, December 1, 2008


Related Web Resources:

CSX

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

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Posted On: December 2, 2008

Wal-Mart Worker’s Black Friday Death Was Preventable

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 says that the death of Jdimytai Damour during the early morning shopping rush on Black Friday could have been prevented. Damour, a 34-year-old seasonal Wal-Mart worker, died after shoppers stampeding into the store at 5am, crushing him and other Wal-Mart employees.

The UFCW, which represents workers in the retail, food processing, and food industries, is questioning whether safety barricades were in place and if there was enough security. It also wants to know why steps weren’t taken to prevent shoppers from moving through the store in such a dangerous manner. Wal-Mart, however, is defending itself, saying it did install the proper barricades and work with internal and external security teams.

Some dozen people were knocked to the floor, along with Damour, as a crowd of about 2,000 shoppers broke through the glass door to get in. Preliminary autopsy findings show that positional asphyxiation was the cause of Damour’s death. Positional asphyxia can occur when a person is unable to get enough air into his or her body to breathe because of the way the body is positioned.

Police reportedly tried to give Damour first aid. At a press conference, Nassau police say that the store was primarily responsible for properly policing its own event.

The UFCW is calling for a full investigation into the deadly work accident. It also wants steps to be taken to ensure that such accidents never occur at a Wal-Mart again.

The union has long accused Wal-Mart of offering poor health coverage and low salaries to its employees. UFCW leaders are calling on the store chain to provide compensation to Damour's family and others who were injured during Friday’s shopping stampede.

lack Friday shoppers Fritz Mesadieu and his 19-year-old son Jonathan have already filed a personal injury lawsuit against Wal-Mart for back and neck injuries they suffered during the mad shopping rush at the same store where Damour died. They are accusing the shopping chain of negligence for its failure to protect shoppers from injuries.

Wal-Mart death preventable, union says, CNN.com, November 30, 2008

Wal-Mart worker died of asphyxiation, autopsy finds, Chicago Tribune, December 2, 2008


Related Web Resources:

Walmart.com

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500

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