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IL injury lawyerCOVID-19 has impacted people all over the world, physically and economically. Although a vaccine is being distributed nationwide, the coronavirus will likely impact the way we live going forward. Studies show that COVID-19 “long-haulers” are individuals who tested positive for the virus and recovered but who have ongoing or long-lasting effects from it. These symptoms can include hair loss, fatigue, chronic cough, brain fog, to name a few. In response to the widespread impact of coronavirus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented a set of guidelines for employers to follow in the fight against COVID-related illnesses. It is crucial for Illinois employers and employees alike to understand how these rules may affect workers’ compensation claims in the future.

Workplace Exposures to COVID-19

The General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide each employee with work and a place of employment that is free from hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or significant physical harm. According to OSHA record-keeping mandates, eligible employers must record certain work-related illnesses and injuries on their OSHA log. COVID-19 can count as one of those illnesses if an employee contracts the virus as a result of performing their work-related tasks. It is important to note that employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following factors are met regarding an employee:

  • There is a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • The case is work-related.
  • The case involves one or more of the recording criteria (medical treatment above and beyond first aid, days absent from work).

OSHA requirements are aimed at preventing occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2. A few of the main standards involve personal protective equipment (PPE), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection when certain occupational duties or hazards warrant it. If the line of work necessitates that respirators be worn to protect workers, employers must implement a thorough respiratory protection program that adheres to the Respiratory Protection standard.

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IL injury lawyerCertain occupations are inherently more dangerous than other jobs. For example, an office worker who sits at a desk and performs the majority of his or her duties on the computer does not face the same risks as construction, warehouse, or assembly line workers. Each year, heavy equipment operators are injured or killed by heavy mobile equipment used in construction. Many of these accidents occur as a result of rollovers or by employees getting struck or crushed by equipment. Depending on the circumstances, victims may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim as a way of recovering damages, which can include lost wages, medical bills, and therapy.

Work-Related Injuries

Heavy equipment operators may control or drive equipment in the construction industry. These machines can include forklifts, tractors, bulldozers, dump trucks, hydraulic cranes, and more. They operate these types of vehicles when constructing roads or structures such as bridges and buildings. However, similar to car crashes, when an accident involves this heavy machinery, the injuries can be catastrophic. The sheer size and weight of them can crush anything in their paths. A few of the most common injuries a heavy equipment operator can sustain include:

  • Severed limbs
  • Broken bones
  • Disfigurement
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord damage/paralysis

Factors that Increase the Likelihood of an Accident

There can be many contributing factors to accidents involving heavy equipment operators. One of the main reasons is when a machine malfunctions, typically due to faulty or defective parts. In some cases, collisions can occur because of improper or inadequate maintenance by the employer. Still other causes could be inclement weather conditions or driver error. Even though operators must go through training to learn how these machines work, it can prove difficult to maneuver them in high winds, pounding rain, or snow. That is why construction companies should take steps to ensure everything is in proper working order.

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IL work injury lawyerWorking in a warehouse can be a challenging job. This field typically requires a lot of physical activity. For example, a worker might be required to lift heavy objects or move large pieces of machinery or equipment. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an employee is injured at work every seven seconds. Further research by the NSC found that in 2017, the highest number of preventable fatal injuries was in the construction industry, followed by transportation and warehousing. In many cases, prevention can spare workers unnecessary pain and suffering caused by a workplace injury. However, an employee is eligible for financial relief through a workers’ compensation claim.

Common Dangers Associated with Warehouse Work

A warehouse can involve many people working at a fast pace with a large inventory of products and many machines, including forklifts, conveyor belts, and pallet racks. Even if certain safety precautions are taken, accidents can and do happen. A few of the typical hazards that can lead to warehouse accidents with injuries include the following:

  • Large equipment/heavy materials
  • Slips and trips
  • Falls
  • Fires/explosions
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Moving parts
  • Falling objects
  • Lack of training/proper safety measures

In some of the above cases, a faulty part breaks and comes loose from a machine, hitting a worker. Falling from a ladder can result in broken bones or significant head trauma. This can lead to temporary or permanent brain damage depending on the impact and how high up a person was when he or she fell.

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