Reduce Injuries and Workers’ Comp Claims with OSHA Approved Footwear

Posted: February 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Construction Workers, Illinois workers comp | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

OSHA approved footwear, Chicago workers’ compensation lawyerWith the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the 91st Congress gave birth to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA.

Operating under the United States Department of Labor, OSHA’s main function is to assure the safe and healthy working conditions for all American laborers. By enacting and enforcing workplace standards, OSHA has been able to significantly reduce workplace accidents and lower the number of workers’ compensation claims through training, outreach, education and assistance.

Often responsible for federal and state regulated programs, OSHA’s jurisdiction reaches the vast majority of private sector workers, as well as federal, state, and local employees. However, it does not govern the safety requirements for those who are self-employed, are farm workers, or are with various federal agencies.

For those residing in Illinois, the issue of workplace safety falls under OSHA approved state plans for all public employees. Federal OSHA regulations apply to private sector employees.

For those beginning a new position in the construction, maritime, healthcare, or even the foodservice industry, OSHA rules and regulations regarding safety shoes have been in effect since the inception of the agency.

Under Title 29 of the Code of Federal OSHA Regulations (29 CFR), the use of industry appropriate safety shoes was enacted to lessen the risk of traumatic and debilitating foot injuries, as well lessening the percentage of workers’ compensation claims.

To promote workplace safety, the following industries require employees to wear safety protective footwear to ward against injury by falling objects, vehicles, moveable materials or electrical components.

General Private Sector Industry

Regulations for this category, under general industry regulations (29 CFR 1910.136), generally apply to the healthcare, foodservice, and any other industry that presents an increased risk of possible foot injuries.

Heavy Equipment and Construction Industry

For those working in these fields, the safety regulations require that all employees wear protective footwear while performing their daily duties. Steel-toed or other industry approved boots are specifically required under OSHA regulations.

Shipyard, Marine and Longshoring Industry

Private sector employees in these industries are also required to adhere to OSHA standards of protective footwear under 29 CFR 1915-1918 respectively.

OSHA regulations also dictate that all safety footwear meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For those working in regulated industries, all protective footwear must bear the ANSI Standard Z41 label to comply with OSHA regulations.

Although there are exceptions to OSHA regulations, such as an electrician wearing steel toed boots to guard against accidental foot injury, the benefits of adhering to OSHA standards guard against personal injury, increases workplace safety, and lessens the volume of workers’ compensation claims to keep America working.

If you recently suffered a debilitating foot injury while on the job, the experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers of the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio urge you not to wait to contact an attorney. To find out if you are entitled to benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, contact our offices today at 630-574-2288.


Police Officer’s Injuries Fall under Traveling Worker Doctrine

Posted: February 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Fall Injuries, Illinois workers comp | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer, Traveling Worker DoctrineUnder most circumstances, employers are not liable if an employee is injured while traveling to or returning home from work at the end of a required shift or commitment. However, there are several jobs which require employees to travel during work hours in order to fulfill the duties of their job. Hence, many states have adopted some variation of the traveling worker doctrine.

In an appeal of a case heard before the Illinois Workers Compensation Board, the board agreed with the original arbitrator’s ruling that the traveling worker doctrine was correctly applied in an original ruling which favored a claimant.

The claimant, a police officer with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, had testified that he was driving in his assigned patrol car when he received a call from district headquarters. He was asked to drive to one office to pick up requested documents and to then drive to another office to deliver the documents.

The officer drove his vehicle to the first location and parked it in a parking lot owned by the district. The claimant testified that he was aware that it was getting close to the end of his shift. Therefore, he only had so much time to complete his assigned task. He left the vehicle and walked toward the building. While doing so, he checked his watch and then tripped on an elevated sidewalk which was located in the front of his vehicle.

The fall resulted in injuries to the claimant’s right knee, should and arm, as well as injuries to his left knee. The arbitrator who heard the original case awarded the claimant benefits under the traveling employee doctrine. The arbitrator based the finding on the following facts:

  • The arbitrator determined that because the officer had been assigned a patrol car for his job, as well as the required duties of patrolling various locations both on and off district-owned property, this confirmed that the claimant was indeed a traveling employee.
  • Regarding the “reasonableness” of the officer’s claim, the arbitrator determined that the act of the officer walking across the parking lot in order to complete the assigned task was a “reasonable” action. The arbitrator further stated that because the claimant was only given a certain amount of time to complete the task, the act of checking his watch—although a distraction which resulted in him missing the sidewalk and falling—was also a “reasonable” act.

The board agreed with the original findings of the arbitrator and agreed that the claimant’s injuries fall under the traveling worker doctrine.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, please contact a knowledgeable and experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.


Independent Contractor vs Actual Employee

Posted: January 30th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Employer Liability, Illinois workers comp, Independent Contractor, Workers Compensation Insurance | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

independent contractor or employee, Illinois workers compensation lawyerMore and more companies are hiring independent contractor to perform the work that was once done by regular employees. This is done to cut down on costs. By hiring a contractor, the company avoids having to pay for health insurance, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and other employee costs dependent on what the company offers or is required to cover an employee for.

If an employee is injured on the job, they are covered by the company’s worker’s compensation insurance and receive compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. They may even be entitled for monetary compensation for their injuries based on the severity of the injury. Typically, if an independent contractor is hurt on the job, they are not covered under workers’ compensation and would not be entitled to any of the same compensations an employee is covered under.

The hiring of independent contractors has become somewhat of a gray area and in many situations, just because an company has labeled someone an independent contractor, under state or federal laws, they may actually be considered an actual employee and entitled to all the same benefits employees of the company receive.

Under Illinois law, there is a list of criteria that determine whether a person performing work for a company is an employee or independent contractor. These factors include:

  • Is the person required to follow the company’s instruction?
  • Did the company provide training to the person to perform the work?
  • Does the company require the person perform the work themselves or can they assign it to others?
  • Does the company set the person’s hours and/or is the person required to work full-time?
  • Is the person paid by the hour (or week) or are they paid once the job is complete?
  • Is the person reimbursed for travel or other business expenses?
  • Did the company provide tools and/or materials necessary for the work to be done?
  • Is there are a contract between the person and the company or are they able to terminate the relationship at will?

If you are an independent contractor and received injuries while working, do not assume that you are not entitled to workers’ compensation because of your employee classification. Contact an experienced Oak Brook workers compensation attorney to discuss your case and determine what compensation you may be legally entitled to.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Workplace: How to Prevent This Growing Problem

Posted: January 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Repetitive Stress Injury, Workers Comp | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

carpal tunnel syndrome, Illinois workers compensation lawyerPeople commonly associate construction zones or factories as dangerous or toxic areas where accident-related injuries will most likely occur due to the use of heavy machinery and chaotic environment. However, office employees are subject to their own set of occupational hazards, leading to a number of injuries, even though the atmosphere might be much calmer.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that affects people in the workplace who spend considerable amounts of time at a desk or on the computer. According to the American College of Rheumatology, 4 to 10 million American suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It occurs when the the median nerve that runs through the forearm and wrist becomes compressed or pinched resulting in symptoms such as:

  • Tingling;
  • Hand weakness;
  • Numbness; and
  • Loss of hand function.

Carpal tunnel is a treatable condition, but in severe cases, surgery may be required. Stretching, taking frequent breaks, and ensuring an ergonomic work space are all important to help prevent hands from cramping and carpal tunnel from becoming a problem.

Desk ergonomics includes making adjustments to your desk chair and computer monitor heights, using a wrist rest, and adding items like a foot rest or headset to help with other daily office tasks. Employees should speak to their human resources manager for ways to make their desks more ergonomically sound.

Carpal tunnel can also affect any person with a job where there is repetitive strain on the nerves in the hand and wrist. Individuals who work in an assembly line or in industries like cleaning, sewing, or manufacturing also commonly experience carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetition of daily tasks.

When a person suffers from this excessive strain, the pain and numbness may eventually lead to the inability to successfully perform the functions of the job. It is important to have preventative measures in place and an open discussion between employers and employees regarding any concerns with desk positioning.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may gradually worsen over time and a workers’ compensation claim may cover this type of repetitive stress injury. If you have experienced an injury on the job and your employer has not implemented preventative measures or refuses to help with treatment, contact a workers’ compensation attorney in Illinois today to discuss your options.


Former FedEx Employee Exercises Rights Under Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, Proves Retaliatory Discharge

Posted: December 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Illinois workers compensation act, Cook County workmans compensation lawyerA majority of companies have a policy in place referencing how to report workplace injuries. In a recent case of a former FedEx employee, the plaintiff disputed his company violated his rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) by terminating him.

FedEx company policy, in this case, stated that an employee who had been injured on the job must immediately report workplace injuries despite the severity of the injury and attempt to provide advance notice to management before seeking medical treatment.

The policy further stated that If advance notification was not presented before seeking medical care for a work-related injury, the employee could be subject to termination. However, according to the Illinois WCA, employee rights to seek medical attention become a legal factor. The Illinois statute states:

“It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service or adjustment company, to discharge or to threaten to discharge, or to refuse to rehire or recall to active service in a suitable capacity an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.”

Pursuant to this act, employers are not allowed to impose an advance notification requirement on an employee who requires work-related medical treatment. It maintains an employee’s rights to seek medical care without interference from an employer.

Facts of the case stated that the plaintiff suffered from a sore back while working at FedEx. The company filed an injury report and made accommodations to the employee by placing him on light duty. After five days, the plaintiff chose to seek medical treatment for his back.

The plaintiff did not provide advance notice to FedEx for treatment and returned to work with a physician assistant’s clearance to work. During his shift, the plaintiff presented the note to FedEx notifying of his medical treatment. Citing its company policy of required advanced notice, FedEx terminated the plaintiff’s employment.

Under the rights guaranteed by WCA, the court found in favor of the plaintiff and held that his claim for retaliatory discharge was established as a matter of law.

If you or someone you know is considering filing for workers’ compensation in Illinois, contact a Cook County workers’ compensation attorney today. You deserve to have your legal rights protected.


Businesses Focus on Off-the-Job Safety as Part of Workers’ Compensation Education Efforts

Posted: December 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Personal Injury, Workers compensation attorney, Workplace Injury, Wrongful Death | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

off-the-job safety, Illinois workers compensation lawyersWorkers’ compensation injuries have steadily been on the decline in Illinois over the past two decades. As of 2011, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reported 3,201 total injuries, a 66 percent drop compared with injuries calculated in 1990. This decrease in incidents has been credited to greater investments towards improved safety measures.

Businesses are now imposing off-the-job safety education for its employees as part of its overall safety culture and aim to decrease incidents of workers’ compensation. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a rising number of organizations consider off-the-job safety an essential factor to help employees and their families. This educational focus provides extra attention to the management of health care costs, employee productivity, and company profits.

Statistics provided from the NSC reveal that U.S. workers are safer on the job than at home with home and community fatalities up 74 percent. These unintentional deaths can be attributed in large part to:

  • Drowning;
  • Falls;
  • Mechanical suffocation; and
  • poisoning.

The national cost for these types of off-the-job injuries and fatalities was at least $246.8 billion in 2007, which translates to $1,677 per U.S. worker. These costs includes:

  • Lost wages;
  • Medical and hospital bills; and
  • Insurance administrative expenses.

Costs and production time as a result of off-the-job injuries have resulted in a higher loss of work days from employees than compared to days lost for injuries in the workplace.

The Illinois Department of Labor provides free, confidential safety and health consultations to small and medium-sized businesses in an ongoing commitment to improving safety and health in the workplace. Providing education for employees both at work and at home helps increase safety measures and prevent accidents from occurring.

If you have experienced an on-the-job injury in Illinois, contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your legal options. Call the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio at 630-574-2288 for a free consultation.


New Study Gives Insight into How Body Reacts when Falling

Posted: November 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Fall Injuries, Illinois workers comp, Ladder Fall Injury, Slip and Fall, Workers Compensation Insurance, Workplace Injury | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

workplace falling injury, Illinois workers compensation lawyerResearchers from Ohio State University recently conducted a study on how the human body moves by walking. The study, titled “A Step in the Right Direction” was published last month in the journal Biology Letters. The results of the study can help gain insight in how to prevent falls, which is one of the most common causes of workplace injuries.

The research team studied how people walk by watching them on a treadmill. There were 10 participants of the study, who were fitted with motion caption markers which tracked them as they walked on the treadmills. Participants were instructed to walk from a relaxed pace all the way to a pace of about two to three miles per hour.

As we walk, we put each foot at slightly different position with each step, in what appears to be random placement of our feet. But the researchers in this study were able to take the data gathered from the motion caption markers and come up with a mathematical model that can predict the placement of the next step over 80 percent of the time. These predictions can be made by watching the small variations in a person’s pelvis as they are walking.

As one of the researchers described it, each step we take as we walk is a balancing act to keep from going too far forward or too far sideways. Think of every step as a tiny fall in which we quickly regain stability. The method we use to take a step is a miniscule version of the larger moves our bodies make when we are losing our balance, such as in a fall.

The study team plans on continuing their research with more studies regarding the stability and control the human body uses in walking and hope to use their findings in possible aid in diagnosing and treating balance conditions.

According to another study, last year, falls were the second most common cause of workplace injuries. The cost of these falls is approximately $70 billion per year in medical costs and workers’ compensation. Some of the most common causes of falls include:

  • Floors that need to be repaired;
  • Spills;
  • Loose rugs or mats;
  • Weather hazards;
  • Inappropriate footwear; and
  • Lack of training for employees.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, you need an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.


Neutral Risk and Worker’s Compensation

Posted: November 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Employer Liability, Illinois workers comp, Slip and Fall, Workers Comp | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

neutral risk workers compensation, Illinois workers comp attorneyJust what types of injuries are covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) can be difficult to determine, especially if the injury or incident occurred on workplace premises. A recent ruling by an Illinois Appellate Court, 4th District, decided against the claimant in a workers’ compensation case, in which she fell while entering the workplace carrying baked goods for an office party.

The decision in Anderegg v. Kesler, Garman, Broughner & Townsley, P.C. was announced in August of this year, in response to the 2011 incident, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin (Vol. 22, Issue 11, Aug. 27, 2014).

The claimant, according to the Bulletin, is a legal secretary at the defendant’s law firm. In the summer of 2011, she was carrying two plastic containers of baked goods for an office party, and lost her balance on a stairway leading to the office. Because she lost her balance while attempting to not drop the baked goods, the claimant filed a workers’ compensation suit for an injury to her right arm.

Initially, the arbitrator denied benefits, ruling that the injury—while it did occur on the job—did not arise from her employment at the firm. This is especially true because while the claimant was carrying baked goods for the office, it was her own decision to bring in the treats; no supervisor of the co-worker had required her to do so.

Simply, this ruling sets a precedent that an employer cannot be held liable under workers’ compensation for an injury that occurs on workplace premises if the employee who was injured as no “exposed to a common risk to a greater degree than the general public,” stated to the Bulletin.

This is what is known as a neutral risk. Injuries that occur due to a neutral risk are not compensable by the WCA unless the employee was exposed to the risk disproportionately to the general public. If, for example, the secretary was required to bring baked goods and had tripped on the stairs primarily because she was carrying them in a hurry to get back by an unreasonably mandated time, she may have had a case for compensation under the WCA.

If you or someone you know is considering filing for workers’ compensation but are not sure whether or not you qualify for benefits, the most important step is to seek the counsel of a legal attorney. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer today.


OSHA Announces New Reporting Regulations for Employers

Posted: October 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, OSHA Workplace Accident Regulations, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

workplace accident OSHAThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new, stricter regulations for companies to file reports when there is a workplace accident. OSHA is the federal agency that oversees the enforcement of the safety and health of all employees in this country.

The new regulations will go into effect on January 1, 2015. One of the changes that OSHA is implementing is the requirement that companies now report accidents where a fatality has occurred. The new rule requires managers to file a detailed report within eight hours of the accident. Under the current regulations, companies are only required to file a report with OSHA if there are three or more employees killed in a workplace accident.

Reporting requirements for workplace accidents where an employee suffers amputation, the loss of an eye, or has severe enough injuries that require in-patient hospitalization have also been changed. Under the current rules, companies are only required to report these types of workplace accidents if again, just like workplace fatalities, three or more employees are affected. The new regulation now requires companies to file a detailed report with OSHA within 24 hours of any accident which results in these types of injuries to an employee.

OSHA’s announcement of regulation changes came just days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their report, 2013 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, which reveals that there were 4,405 employees who were killed on the job last year. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stressed that on the job accidents which injure or kill employees are “absolutely preventable” and the goal of the new regulations is to “hold employees accountable for preventing” these accidents.

Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, pointed out that serious accidents and fatalities are indicators of serious issues at a company. “Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” he said.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, you need an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.

 

 


New Rules for Communications Tower Workers

Posted: October 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, OSHA Workplace Accident Regulations | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

communication tower worker safety, Chicago workers compensation lawyerThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued new regulations for its Communications Tower directive. The new updates focuses on hoist systems which are used to move workers to and from workstations located on communication towers.

The instructions were issued among growing concern over the spike of fatalities that have occurred at communications tower sites. There was twice the number of fatalities in 2013 as there were in the combined years of 2011 and 2012. Thirteen people were killed in communications tower work accidents last year. As of July of this year, there have already been 9 people killed in accidents.

According to OSHA, the mortality rate of communications tower employees is 25 times more than the average American worker. In February of this year, the agency sent letters to all communication workers, urging them to follow the strict guidelines that have been put in place for their protection. The letter outlined how critical it is for tower workers to be provided with proper training in safe work practices. The letter also cited the importance of workers to have the proper equipment, as well as training in the correct way to use that equipment.

In 2002, OSHA issued a directive regarding the correct way to use hoist and other fall arrest systems. This directive also included instructions on how to hoist and move workers safely. However, the directive only covered workers who were in the process of erecting new communication towers, but not for maintenance on existing towers. The new directive addresses workers who are working on either existing or new communication towers.

In a statement announcing the new rules, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health said, “This directive ensures that communication tower workers are protected regardless of the type of the work they are doing on communication towers. Employers and cell tower owners and operators must make sure workers are properly trained and protected.”

If you or someone in your family has been injured on the job, contact an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to find out what civil recourse you may have for compensation for pain and loss you have suffered.