August 11, 2010

Many Ex-Blockson Chemical Employees Still Haven’t Received Worker Compensation for Radiation Exposure at Joliet, Illinois Chemical Plant

Fifty years after they were exposed to radiation while working as a Blockson Chemical employee in Joliet, Illinois, many of the former workers and their survivors have yet to receive payment from the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. The fund that was created to compensate those who, without adequate protection, were exposed to high levels of radiation while on the job.

Fund recipients are supposed to $150,000 plus medical benefits. If the afflicted worker is no longer alive, then their surviving family members are entitled to get compensation.

Blockson employees that are eligible to get work injury compensation from this fund developed cancer because they helped construct atomic weapons between March 1951 and June 1960. Yet Department of Labor statistics reveal that of the 363 claims filed by former Blockson workers and relatives, only 102 have been paid. Many have not even been apprised of the status of their claims. Also, of 5,170 claims filed by former employees from 29 eligible Illinois facilities, the fund has paid only 1,250 of them.

Hopefully, this situation will soon change. Federal officials are expected to rule on a special petition filed on behalf of the former employees and surviving family members. The petition seeks to eliminate the requirement that a claimant must prove that his/her cancer was caused by the radiation. A claim would still, however, have to provide a physician’s verification that the former worker was afflicted with one of several kinds of cancer.

It can be devastating to find out that you now have a life-threatening illness or disease because of the hazards that you were exposed to at work.

Former Joliet chemical workers wait for radiation funds, Chicago Breaking News, August 2, 2010

Facilities Eligible for Funds, Chicago Tribune

Related Web Resources:
Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program

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July 27, 2010

Ex-Motorola Workers’ Cook County Injury Lawsuit Claims Their Children’s Birth Defects were Caused by Toxic Substances Used to Make Products

71 plaintiffs have filed a Cook County, Illinois injury lawsuit seeking damages from former employer Motorola for their children’s birth defects. They are claiming that because they worked with toxic substances during the manufacture of certain Motorola products, their children were born with serious defects.

The former employees contend that the Schaumburg-based company knew that the chemicals used to manufacture computer chips and semiconductors were toxic and could cause people who were exposed to them to have babies with birth defects. The children of the plaintiffs are suffering from different conditions, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy, brain malformations, autism, sterility, skeletal deformities, and physical deformities. Two of the children were missing an ear when they were born. Some of the workers’ kids are now adults.

The children’s parents worked at different Motorola facilities between 1965 and 2007. The plaintiffs are accusing the defendant of knowing (or if not, then they should have known) that reproductive harm was a possible side effect of working with the dangerous substances. They also contend that the company did not provide protective gear for them when they were in what were supposed to be sterile “clean rooms” that ended up circulating the allegedly toxic substances through the air.

The plaintiffs say that in 1986, there was already a study by Johns Hopkins University and IBM that reported that solvents, chemicals, metals, and other compounds can have a dangerous effect on reproduction. Different chemical manufacturers, occupational safety institutes, and trade associations had also warned that working with or around certain products may prove harmful. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages from Motorola.

Employers are supposed to take all necessary steps to protect workers from injury or death while they are doing their jobs. That said, regardless of who was at fault, workers are usually entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation. Even if you are no longer working for your employer, there still may be legal options that you can pursue if you later discover that your injuries or illness occurred because of your former job. If you believe that your child or another family was injured because they were exposed through hazardous substances through you because of your job, you and/or their may have grounds for Cook County personal injury recovery.

Ex-workers' lawsuit blames Motorola for birth defects, News-Sun, July 25, 2010

Ex-workers sue Motorola over kids’ birth defects, Chicago Breaking News, July 26, 2010


Related Web Resource:
Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Corporate Responsibility, Motorola

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April 16, 2010

Former Illinois Central Railroad Company Employee Files Railroad Worker Lawsuit Over Asbestos Exposure

Walter V. Duffy is suing Illinois Central Railroad Company for an asbestos-related disease he contracted. Duffy worked for the railroad company as an engineer and fireman from 1952 until 1995.

He says that during the course of working for the company, he was exposed to asbestos fibers and dust. In his railroad worker lawsuit, claims that Illinois Central Railroad Company did not give him a safe place to work, did not provide him with safe tools, neglected to safely operated the locomotive repair facility, and did not warn him about products that contained asbestos. He is also accusing the railroad company of negligence for failing to test him from time to time for any ill effects from exposure to the toxic substance, not limiting his access to areas where products with asbestos were present, not testing the products before the workers used them, and failing to give him a separate space for the clothing he wore outside of work.

Duffy says that because he was exposed to asbestos, he now has an asbestos-related disease and has experienced great pain and mental agony over what he perceives to be a permanent condition. He claims that his risk of developing mesothelioma or another type of asbestos-related cancer has gone up and that this frightens him.

Among the railroad worker damages he is seeking: lost wages, medical expenses, loss of the ability to provide his services, and a shorter life expectancy.

Railroad Workers and Asbestos Exposure
There are a number of railroad jobs that may increase a worker’s exposure to asbestos. Driving engines in areas where asbestos is present, checking locomotives’ mechanical condition, installing and repairing signals, coupling cars, loading and unloading cargo that contains asbestos, and putting together trains in yards are some railroad worker jobs that can increase the exposure risk. Asbestos can cause cancer. It can also result in serious disabilities and death.

Railroad worker sues over asbestos exposure, The Record, April 12, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Asbestos, EPA

Asbestos, OSHA (PDF)

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November 2, 2009

OSHA’s 2009 Top 10 Safety Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued its list of the 10 most common workplace safety violations for the year:

9,093 Scaffolding violations: Most common causes of scaffolding accidents involve the support or planking giving way or the employee slipping or getting hit by a falling object.

6,771 Fall Protection violations: Workers in the general industry working at a height of four feet or greater must be adequately protected. In the construction arena workers must be protected when working at six feet or higher.

6,378 Hazard Communication violations: Chemical makers and importers must evaluate the hazards of their products and develop safety data sheets and labels so that downstream clients are made aware of these hazards.

3,803 Respiratory Protection violations: Workers must be protected against dangerous dusts, smokes, fogs, gases, mists, sprays, vapors, and inadequate oxygen environments. Failure to do so can result in lung impairment, cancer, and other diseases. It can also lead to deaths.

3,321 Lockout-Tag Out violations: Employees must be protected from hazardous energy released during maintenance or service. They also must be protected from the unexpected activation of equipment and machinery.

3,079 Electrical Wiring Violations: Electricians, engineers, sales people, office workers, and other employees must be protected from the hazards of working directly or indirectly with electricity.

3,072 Ladder violations: Falls from ladders can result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and death. Fall accidents cause 8% of all occupational-related fatalities involving trauma.

2,993 Powered-Industrial Trucks violations: Tens of thousands of people are injured each year because of forklift accidents.

2,556 Electrical violations

2,364 Machine Guarding violations: Protecting workers from any part, process, or function that can injure or kill a worker.

Compared to same time period last year, the number of top 10 violations has gone up nearly 30%.

Regardless of who or what caused a work accident, most workers are entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

OSHA Reports on Top 10 Safety Violations for 2009, Reuters.PR Newswire, October 27, 2009


Related Web Resources:

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October 30, 2009

Work Injury: Harvard Researchers Hospitalized Due to Poisoned Coffee

Six Harvard University researchers were hospitalized in August after drinking coffee that was poisoned. The coffee, which came from a coffee machine in a campus building, had sodium azide in it.

The poisoned researchers, consisting of Harvard Medical School students and scientists, experienced various side effects after drinking the coffee, including low blood pressure, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and fainting. All six victims were treated at Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center.

Sodium azide, commonly used in labs as a preservative, is listed as a “potentially deadly chemical" by the federal government. All of the victims work in the medical school’s pathology department where they test mice to determine the way the immune system and diseases interact.

Harvard University is installing more security cameras and adding additional security to prevent this kind of incident from happening again. Police and health officials are trying to figure out how the coffee was poisoned. Was it a work accident or attempted murder?

Sodium Azide
According to Mallinckrodt Baker, a chemical company, sodium azide is highly toxic. Ingesting it can lead to abnormal breathing, low blood pressure, rapid heart beat, pulmonary edema, breathlessness, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, restlessness, reduced body temperature, red eyes, skin burns, lung injury, convulsions, reduced body pH, respiratory failure, collapse, brain damage, heart damage, and death.

Poisoning at Harvard, Boston Herald, October 25, 2009
Sodium Azide, Mallinckrodt Baker

Related Web Resources:
Facts About Sodium Azide, CDC

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act

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June 30, 2009

Catastrophic Work Accidents on Monday Lead to Injuries and Deaths

It’s only Tuesday and already several workers have been seriously injured or killed in US work accidents this week. Hopefully, their workers’ compensation benefits can help cover costs incurred from the accident and provide financial relief.

Yesterday, three workers died while in a liquid-filled hole at a waste transfer plant. Authorities say the workers appear to have been overcome by toxic fumes. Two of the people that died were a father and a son.

The hole was 18-feet deep and had about four feet of liquid in it. One worker fell into the hole. A second worker tried to rescue him. A third worker that was trying to assist the two workers also fell into the hole. Firefighters say that by the time they arrived at the work accident site, the three bodies were face down in the liquid. Authorities say there were toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide in the air. The plant is run by M & P Reali Enterprises.

Also on Monday, a 53-year-old worker died after he was run over by the tractor he was operating. Reginaldo Correa Talamantes, 53, got caught under the vehicle's rear wheel. He was pronounced dead at the work accident site.

In an unrelated work accident in another US state, foreman John Evans’s leg was crushed while he was trying to line up the milling machine. He tripped and fell in front of the machine. The machine operator did not see Evans and ran over his leg.

Sustaining a catastrophic injury in any accident is a traumatic and devastating event that not only causes great pain and injury to the victim and his or her family, but it also can dramatically impact the worker's ability to work and earn a living. This is why it is important that you receive all of the Illinois workers’ compensation benefits that you are owed.

Willows orchard worker killed in tractor accident, ChicoER.com, June 30, 2009

Worker's leg crushed in road milling accident, The Herald-Mail, June 30, 2009

3 Workers Dead at Waste Plant in Queens, NY Times, June 29, 2009


Related Web Resources:
Illinois Industrial Commission

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