Workplace injuries occur daily in nearly all types of jobs. Some workplace injuries are minor and heal within a short time. Others are severe and life-threatening, leaving the injured worker with permanent disabilities, emotional trauma, and financial difficulties. Most common workplace injuries can be prevented by prioritizing safety. Unfortunately, a 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report shows that 102,000 and 22,700 non-fatal work injuries and illnesses occurred in Illinois private and public industries respectively.
Importance of Workplace Safety in Illinois
The greatest advantage of any effective workplace safety program is to minimize the risk of work-related injury, disease, or death to employees. A safe and healthy work environment enhances the physical and mental well-being of workers. The outcome is efficient and highly productive employees committed to helping the company expand its bottom line and achieve its full potential.
Why Employers Should Prioritize Safety to Prevent Injuries
Failure to prioritize safety is one of the leading causes of work-related injuries. Employers can reap the following benefits by prioritizing safety to prevent injuries:
- A Productive Work Environment: Removing workplace hazards allows workers to focus on their work and strive to achieve their daily targets. Workers in safe and healthy work environments are likely to be more efficient and productive compared to their counterparts who face constant threats of injuries in their workplaces.
- Employee Retention: A healthy work environment shows that a company values the well-being of its workers. Employees in such a company are likely to remain loyal and work there for long. Those who feel unsafe or have suffered a workplace injury or illness in the past are likelier to look for new job opportunities.
- A Drop in Employee Insurance Claims: A safe work environment significantly lowers the number of employee insurance claims. The outcome is lower insurance premiums, reduced cost of hiring and training replacement workers, and lower overtime pay for current workers who may have otherwise worked long hours to cover for the injured workers.
- Protects the Company’s Most Valuable Resource: Employees are the most precious asset of any company. Implementing a functioning workplace safety program keeps this asset protected at all times.
- A Good Return on Investment (ROI): Companies that invest in workplace safety and health see a decent ROI. Returns come from a positive public image, avoiding non-compliance costs, and lowering expensive employee injuries and accidents.
- Enhance the Value of a Brand: A reputation for a safe and healthy environment is an excellent selling proposition for any company. The company would be more likely to attract new customers while retaining existing ones.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injured Workers
The primary goal of workers’ compensation insurance is to offer a financial safety net to workers who get injured or develop an illness because of their jobs. The injured workers receive monetary benefits in return for waiving their rights to sue their employer. Injured workers may receive the following workers’ comp benefits:
Workers’ comp must pay for all reasonable medical services necessary to heal or alleviate the effects of your job-related injury or illness. These services include treatment by your physician, diagnostic tests, hospital stays, medications, and physical therapy.
Illinois allows you to select two doctors, surgeons, or medical facilities. One of your selections of providers will be the Preferred Provider Program, if your employer has enrolled in such a program.
Wage Loss Benefits
Besides medical benefits, injured workers qualify to receive a portion of their wage loss if a job-related injury or illness forces them to miss work. Specifically, they collect 67% (or two-thirds) of their weekly wages every week they miss work because of their injury or illness. Wage loss benefits in Chicago, Illinois, are available in four forms, including:
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits: You may be entitled to these benefits if you return to work part-time or to perform light duties as you heal. You can calculate these benefits by getting two-thirds of the difference between your earnings before your injury and your current earnings.
- Temporary Total Disability (TPD) Benefits: You may be entitled to these benefits if you cannot work during recovery or your employer cannot allocate job duties that fit your physical limitations. TPD benefits are usually two-thirds of your average weekly earnings before your injury or illness. You will keep getting these benefits until you attain maximum medical improvement (MMI) – a point where your condition cannot improve even with additional treatment.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits: Your treating physician will examine you after you have attained MMI to see if you have suffered any permanent physical disability or loss of function. You will be entitled to PTD benefits for life if the physician declares you permanently and totally disabled.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits: You may receive PPD benefits if your injury or illness has triggered function loss in a part (or parts) of your body.
Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
Vocational rehabilitation under workers’ comp covers training for a new job, retraining for the current job, and career counseling. It may also cover the cost of searching and applying for open job positions.
Death benefits may be available to the dependents of a worker who dies due to a workplace injury or illness. They cover a percentage of the deceased worker’s burial expenses. They may also compensate eligible dependents for the loss of monetary support they were getting from the deceased worker.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can carefully assess your situation to determine benefits available and guide you through the filing process.
Common Types of Workplace Injuries in Illinois
Workers in Illinois suffer different types of work-related injuries. These injuries affect them physically, psychologically, and financially, regardless of their type. The common types of workplace injuries in the state are as follows:
Slip and Falls
Workers in any line of work can sustain slip-and-fall injuries. They occur when a person trips, slips, and falls. Causes include potholes or cracks, tripping hazards like exposed wiring, wet floors, and food or liquid spills. Injuries sustained range from serious strains and bone breaks to head injuries and concussions. Proper fall protection is necessary, especially for workers working at great heights.
Falling Objects and Collisions
Falling object injuries happen when equipment, tools, or building materials are loosely secured or unsecured at a distance above the workstation or site. Any force or movement may cause the equipment or material to drop to the ground or on a worker. The outcome can range from some minor lacerations to a disabling injury.
Collision injuries, on the other hand, happen when a worker gets hit by a car or heavy machinery. They are common among workers who drive trucks, forklifts, and company or personal vehicles when performing job-related tasks.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Any motions performed daily, over a long time, and without sufficient rest can expose workers to repetitive use injuries. Workers in the administration, manufacturing, and processing industries are prone to these injuries.
Electrical accidents in most workplaces arise from defective or insufficiently maintained electrical equipment. These accidents can cause burns, shocks, organ damage, and nerve damage. They can also leave the victim with physical impairment, permanent scars or disfigurement, and emotional trauma.
Other Workplace Injuries
The most common workplace injuries in Chicago, Illinois are slips and falls, falling objects and collisions, repetitive motion injuries, and electrical accident injuries. A skilled lawyer can help you pursue workers’ compensation for injuries caused by other employees or employer’s negligence. Other commonly occurring types of workplace injuries include:
These painful disorders affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. They usually stem from repetitive job tasks or work activities with poor posture. These disorders are tension neck syndrome, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Caught in Machinery Accidents
These accidents occur when a body or body part(s) get trapped in machinery. The severity of injuries depends on the physical force applied to the trapped body or body parts. Injuries range from minor scraps and bruises to amputated body parts to physical disability and even death.
Workers whose duties involve driving or controlling vehicles are prone to vehicle accident injuries. Some examples of these workers are truck drivers, law enforcement officers, emergency medical responders, salespersons, and firefighters. Injuries sustained include internal injuries, bone breaks or fractures, spinal cord injuries, burns, and brain damage.
Burns and Chemical Exposure
Burns and chemical exposure occur too often in Illinois because of the harmful chemicals in industrial workplaces. Construction, factory, and automotive mechanic work are some jobs prone to burns and chemical exposure.
Mental Health Issues
An unfavorable work environment can cause mental health issues or exacerbate the existing ones. The most common workplace injuries can also take a toll on a worker’s mental health due to the missed time from work and the cost incurred in treatment. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders are some examples of work-related mental health issues.