Workers’ compensation is typically thought of as the benefits that employees receive when they are injured on the job in a work accident, and many times that is exactly the case. However, not only can workers’ compensation cover workplace injuries, but it can also cover any medical conditions that may occur due to unsafe working conditions. Hopefully, this is something that no worker will have to face, but for one worksite located in Illinois, workers may unfortunately have to file these claims thanks to potentially dangerous working conditions.
Recently, OSHA issued Johnson Controls Inc. citations for five health violations concerning asbestos removal at an Illinois worksite. Not only did Johnson Controls not provide any training to its workers who were conducting asbestos removal, but the company also failed to require workers to use impermeable drop cloths and protective clothing as they handled this toxic material. They have since been fined $59,400.
The company is considering whether to contest the violations and fine imposed. An employee spokesman says that the workers did receive asbestos training. However, he admitted that employees in this plant were not hired to work with this asbestos and didn’t know that they were actually handling that material.
Workers should always be prepared to deal with the conditions of their workplace, including any toxic substances that they might encounter. If workers are not adequately prepared, their employers have a duty to care for them should they encounter any significant difficulty from exposure. For the workers at this Illinois worksite, if they believe that they have been affected health wise from asbestos exposure, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for attendant medical care and other expenses related to any illness that develops related to employment.
Source: Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, “OSHA cites Johnson Controls for asbestos violations in Illinois,” Thomas Content, Aug. 16, 2012