Construction injuries and fatalities are on the rise. After decades of declining accidents and injuries in the construction industry, fatalities increased by 18 percent between 2011 and 2014. In large cities like Chicago with many constructions projects underway, a Crystal Lake worker compensation attorney is likely to see a rise in workers' compensation claims.
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Construction Safety ConcernsAccording to the Associated General Contractors of America, 71 percent of construction companies expect to hire new workers in 2016. Many of those companies will face hiring challenges due to a shortage of qualified workers. Construction jobs present numerous safety hazards for experienced workers, but young or inexperienced workers face even greater safety risks. Construction firms and organizations like AGC of America emphasize that safety professionals, construction foremen, and experienced workers will need to be vigilant about safety on construction sites to reverse a recent trend of increasing fatalities within the construction industry.
Safety in Construction ZonesOSHA and the National Safety Council recommend heavy controls at construction work zone sites, that include traffic signals controlled by cones, signs, barrels and barriers that help both drivers and construction workers identify safe traffic routes. They also recommend setting up concrete or sturdy collapsible barriers or crash cushions around construction sites to prevent passing vehicles from entering the work zone. In some construction zones, flaggers may be appropriate, but they must be properly protected:
- Training - Flaggers should be certified and well-trained in authorized signaling methods such as STOP/SLOW paddles, paddles with lights, or flags in the case of an emergency situation.
- Visibility - Flaggers should wear reflective clothing that makes them visible from 1,000 feet in any direction. Garments should be a performance class 2 or 3.
- Lights - Flagger stations must be properly illuminated with adequate lighting, as well as flares or chemical lighting in places without sufficient lighting.
Occupational Safety HazardsConstruction workers in Chicago and other busy cities face serious safety hazards, and reports show that construction accidents are on the rise. A Crystal Lake worker compensation attorney sees a variety of construction injuries that prompt workers' compensation claims in Illinois. According to Safety and Health Magazine, the most common injuries occur as a result of the following accidents on construction sites:
- Slips, trips and falls - 36 percent
- Cuts and lacerations - 33 percent
- Hand tools - 13 percent
- Overexertion - 8 percent
- Struck by falling objects - 8 percent
- Power equipment - 3 percent
In addition to the above safety hazards, construction workers are exposed to various environmental hazards. During the summer months, outdoor construction workers are at greater risk of heat stroke and heat-related injuries. Outdoor construction workers are also frequently exposed to crystalline silica dust while performing certain construction work:
- Chipping, crushing or drilling rock
- Hauling and dumping rock
- Abrasive blasting of concrete
- Chipping, drilling or grinding concrete or masonry
- Demolition of concrete and masonry structures
- Sweeping or pressurized air blowing of rock, concrete or sand dust
Construction workers who are exposed to silica dust over long periods of time have a greater risk of developing a variety of respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and silicosis, a serious lung disease which affects breathing. Silicosis victims have a high risk of developing active tuberculosis with fatal complications.
Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim
Injured construction workers are generally entitled to worker's compensation benefits. Illinois workers' compensation laws require employers to provide injured employees with benefits, including medical/rehabilitative expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits if the employee is unable to work on a temporary or permanent basis.
To receive Illinois workers' compensation benefits, an injured construction worker must notify his/her employer within 45 days of the accident and file a claim with a Crystal Lake worker compensation attorney. If an employer fails to provide workers' compensation benefits, the injured construction worker may file a claim with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC). Workers' compensation claims must be filed within three years of the date of the accident or two years from the date the injured employee last received workers' compensation benefits, whichever is later.