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The most common causes of on-the-job brain injuries

We've learned a lot about concussions in recent years. For example, we know that repeated concussions, as well as other brain injuries, can cause significant physical, emotional and cognitive issues well into a person's future.

Pro football players aren't the only ones whose jobs put them at risk of suffering a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). People in many lines of work are at risk on a regular basis. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25% of all fatal workplace-related TBIs are suffered by construction workers. They also suffer more non-fatal brain injuries every year than people in any other line of work.

Court: Injured Illinois worker waited too long to sue contractor

An Illinois man who suffered a serious workplace injury did not sue the electrical contractor he holds responsible for the accident within the statute of limitations. That was the finding this month of a state appeals court.

The plaintiff was employed by a food supply company in Wheeling, in suburban Chicago, in 2015, when the accident occurred. He was repairing a fudge maker when an employee in another room, who was unable to see him, turned the machine on. His right hand was injured and he lost several fingers.

Take care of your body -- overexertion can be deadly

Regardless of the industry in which you earn a living in Illinois, you will be at risk of suffering musculoskeletal disorders if you do not take care of your body. From office and call center workers to those involved in construction, manufacturing, transportation and logging, all risk overexertion. MSDs affect muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, joints, spinal discs and cartilage.

Your employer can prevent musculoskeletal disorders by addressing ergonomics in the workplace. This involves fitting each job to the employee who will do it.

Why shift work can be particularly dangerous

Some 15 percent of American workers don't have "traditional" work hours. Doctors, nurses, police officers, truck drivers, mini-mart employees and many more people do what is known as "shift work."

People who work during nontraditional hours -- particularly those who work throughout the night while most people are sleeping -- are throwing their body's biological clock out of whack. That clock, also known as "circadian rhythm" tells our bodies to become sleepy when it gets dark by producing melatonin, which is a chemical that promotes sleep. Therefore, even if a person has the time to get eight hours of sleep during the day before they go to work, their body resists.

Injured worker receives nearly $6 million award

One common cause of workplace injuries is faulty equipment. Workers in many types of industries depend on the equipment they use to be in good working order. When it's not, the results can be catastrophic.

A man who suffered serious injuries in 2015 after an equipment malfunction has been awarded $5.9 million by a jury here in Illinois. The man was removing a chimney from a property when he fell somewhere between 20 and 25 feet from the bucket he was in that was on an aerial lift truck. Apparently, there was a crack in the bucket that hadn't been noticed.

The link between brain injuries and suicide

When a person suffers a concussion or other type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), their treatment is often focused on healing their brain and dealing with the physical symptoms they're experiencing. However, it's essential to understand the impact of a TBI on a person's mental health.

Some studies have focused on the link between TBIs and suicide. Sometimes, suicides result from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression that can occur after a single TBI or multiple injuries over the course of years.

Why young workers are at high risk of injury in summer jobs

If your high school or college student is one of the millions of young people who will be spending a considerable portion of their summer working, you should know that their chances of suffering an injury on the job might be higher than those of adult, full-time employees they may be working alongside.

In part, that's because of inadequate supervision and safety training, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Sometimes, this supervision and training are lacking even when young workers are operating equipment that can be dangerous.

How construction workers can help prevent heat-related illnesses

Construction work always involves risk to the safety and health of people in that profession. However, the summer months bring additional dangers -- particularly to those who work outside.

Summer in Illinois means a boom in construction work that can't be done during our cold, snowy winters. However, Illinois summers can be brutally hot and humid. That heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be dangerous.

How safe will you be at the site of your summer job?

The end of the school year is around the corner, and if you are one the thousands of Illinois teenagers who will take on your first summer job soon, you could probably benefit from learning about potential safety hazards and how to mitigate them. Employers are responsible for the safety and health of all workers by providing safe work environments that are free of known hazards. When it comes to workers who are inexperienced and new to the workplace, additional rules apply.

If you use the services of a staffing agency to find your summer job, your safety most likely becomes the responsibility of both the staffing agency and the host employer. Along with federal and state laws that restrict work hours and job types of workers who are younger than 18, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety standards with which to comply. Safety authorities note that this is the ideal opportunity to have first-line supervisors influence the work ethics and habits of young workers positively.

Driver who struck construction worker facing DUI, other charges

As we've discussed here before, construction workers whose jobs put them on Illinois' roads have among the most dangerous lines of work around. Aside from the risks that all construction workers face, they're also at the mercy of drivers who may be under the influence, distracted or simply frustrated that the road work is interfering with their ability to get where they're going on time.

Last month, a worker was struck and injured by a driver in a construction zone on River Road near Rosemont. He was hospitalized, but the lower extremity injuries he suffered were not life-threatening.

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Hannigan & Botha, Ltd.
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