Preventing Workplace Injuries in Illinois

Young man in a construction site with a digging machine. Preventing workplace injuries

Preventing workplace injuries is one of the major responsibilities of employers in Chicago, Illinois. They can do this by promoting safety awareness and education, providing personal protective equipment, and checking for safety hazards. Employers also need to have a positive safety mindset, since it can lead to an accident-free workplace, increased employee morale, and higher efficiency.

Some of the most common work-related injuries in Illinois include slip and fall injuries, lacerations, and repetitive stress injuries. Others include occupational exposure injuries/illnesses and traumatic brain injuries. Regardless of the injury, be sure to seek medical help, report the injury, and get a copy of an accident report if you get hurt at your workplace. These steps will increase your odds of a better prognosis and recovering compensation.

Workplace Injuries in Illinois

Work-related injuries and illnesses are among the leading causes of death in Illinois. However, these events can be prevented with effective collaborative efforts and adequate resources.

Common Workplace Injuries in Illinois

Workers in Illinois are prone to various types of injuries when performing their duties. These injuries can place serious financial and emotional strains on workers and their loved ones. That is why you should hire an attorney for your workers’ compensation claim following a workplace accident.

Some common workplace injuries in Illinois are:

  • Slip and fall injuries, which include back injuries, concussions, severe strains/sprains, dislocated bones, or broken bones.
  • Repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, occur when workers repeat the same exertions and motions over and over again.
  • Motor vehicle accident injuries are sustained by workers who operate motor vehicles as part of their work duties. These workers include salespeople, public transportation drivers, truck drivers, and police officers
  • Lacerations include deep cuts or skin tears. They are common to workers in factory, manufacturing, construction, and restaurant sectors
  • Crush injuries are caused by getting caught between large equipment, heavy machinery, or objects
  • Occupational exposure illnesses or injuries, which are sustained by workers exposed to occupational hazards like extreme temperatures, loud noises, and particulates in the air.

High-Risk Industries and Occupations

Manufacturing is a high-risk industry because of the dangerous nature of the tasks workers perform. Service, construction, forestry, agriculture, and fishing sectors also have risks of injuries or death due to the heavy machinery used, lack of safety programs, and harmful chemicals.

Education, health services, and warehousing are also high-risk sectors due to risk factors like lack of control over work tasks and time pressure that leave workers vulnerable to injuries or illnesses. Other risk factors include lack of support, shift work, and long working hours. Workplace hazards can be safety, biological, physical, ergonomic, chemical, or workload-related.

Workplace Safety Laws and Regulations in Illinois

Illinois workplace safety laws and regulations require employers to maintain safe and healthy working environments. Employers must continually inspect their premises for irregularities and flaws and take the right corrective action to remain compliant.

Employers must also eliminate and reduce the risks of work-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. They can achieve this by offering their employees proper safety-related education and training. Having a safety and health program can also help employers prepare for worst-case scenarios before they occur.

Illinois workplace safety laws and regulations require workplace inspections to occur with or without probable cause. They also require state-accredited inspectors to perform these inspections to ensure that the workplace meets the set occupational health and safety standards. Reports of worker complaints, imminent danger, and fatalities can also prompt employers to schedule inspections.

What Are the Responsibilities of Employers in Preventing Workplace Injuries?

Workplace accidents can cause significant losses and damages. While it’s impossible to avoid them, employers can minimize them with various strategies. The injury prevention responsibilities of employers in Chicago, Illinois, include:

  • Recognizing the workplace dangers or hazards
  • Ensuring all employees use necessary safety equipment properly
  • Working with other stakeholders to develop strategies to reduce work-related risks
  • Having everyone on the job site work at intervals to reduce fatigue-related accidents
  • Inspecting equipment daily
  • Adopting workplace ergonomics to prevent repetitive stress injuries

Some actionable strategies for minimizing workplace accidents and injuries include:

Performing Physical and Mental Health Screenings

Some workplaces involve intense physical labor, prompting employers to carry out mental health screenings and physicals. These measures need to be part of the recruitment or hiring process. They can help ensure that hired workers are fit enough to handle tasks safely.

Providing the Required Personal Protective Gear

Personal protective gear may include face masks and gloves at the basic level. The protective gear varies with the workplace and intensity of the job. It protects against injuries or illnesses in work environments exposed to solvents and chemicals.

Continuous On-the-Job Safety Training

Job training can cover aspects like correct lifting methods and using fire extinguishers. It may also help workers learn how to handle dangerous chemicals or equipment safely and report accidents. Regardless of the industry, these trainings should occur repeatedly throughout an employee’s tenure and reflect changes in safety trends and standards to be effective.

It’s Important to Have a Safety-First Mindset in the Workplace

A positive safety mindset is crucial when trying to maintain an accident-free workplace. It can result in higher productivity and increased employee morale. With this mindset, workplaces incur fewer losses and protect their bottom line.

Employers can develop a positive safety mindset by ensuring everyone works safely and cares about other people’s safety. They should also watch out for unsafe behaviors or conditions. If an employee spots a workplace hazard, the employer should have empowered and encouraged the employee to report it and have it mitigated.

A positive safety mindset is not limited to employers, since employees also have a say in a company’s safety record. As such, employees should cultivate a safety culture by adhering to both state and federal-mandated health and safety guidelines. They should also participate in decision-making efforts focused on preventing workplace accidents.

Responding to Workplace Incidents

Steps taken after an accident at your workplace can help lower the risk of injury or illness to other employees. Instead of panicking, stay calm and try to calm your colleagues. You should also administer first aid to any injured people if you have the training to do so.

Afterward, contact emergency responders to inform them of the accident. As you wait for the emergency medical providers to arrive, ask other employees if they are competent in life-saving techniques or immediate care. Decongest the accident scene to prevent further injuries from occurring.

Once immediate care has been provided to the victim, work with your supervisors to investigate the accident. Ask witnesses about their account of the accident and preserve physical evidence. Your supervisor or manager should notify the regulatory agencies, insurance companies, and victims’ loved ones about the accident so that they can take appropriate action.

Prompt Medical Attention for Injured Employees

Seek medical attention promptly if you suffer an injury or illness due to a workplace accident. Even if you think the illness or injury is not serious, see a doctor to review the symptoms. Seeing a doctor allows documentation of your injuries and treatment, which can help support your workers’ compensation claim.

Seeking medical care as soon as possible can also help demonstrate to the insurance company that your injury or illness is work-related. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can help build the claim by collecting evidence and speaking with the insurance adjusters as you focus on recovery.

Steps to Take if You Have Been Injured at Work

Once you seek immediate medical attention, you can report the injury or illness to your supervisor orally or in writing within 45 days. Let the supervisor or employer know you sustained the injury/illness while performing your duties. The report should have your identifying details, including your contact information.

Ensure your supervisor prepares an accident report for your work-related injury or illness. If your supervisor refuses to prepare one, write a letter that details the nature of the accident and hand it over to him or her. Then, get that supervisor to acknowledge he or she got it through a signature. You should also keep a copy of the report.

If the supervisor filed an accident report, ask for a copy of the report and keep it safe. You should also record contacts of individuals related to the accident, including doctors, other victims, and witnesses. You will need a statement from these individuals to prove your claim for benefits.

Follow any instructions your medical care provider gives you to improve your recovery. You should also request your doctor to put work-related medical advice in writing if he or she asks you not to perform certain activities due to your condition. Give your supervisor a copy of the report, and keep one.

But what happens when you are injured at work off the clock, and what should you do? You still need to take the steps discussed above. Consult a lawyer to determine whether your off-the-clock injury is compensable.