About 14,000 employees died in 1976 from injuries they received while at work. The number of at-work deaths nationwide in 2013 was just above 4,400. For families of Chicago employees killed in work-related accidents, the only acceptable fatality number is zero.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal government's work safety regulator and enforcer, agrees. OSHA has tightened already-strict guidelines for reporting job-related serious injuries and accidents. Companies are required to follow these rules to comply with federal standards or face possible sanctions.
Under the guidelines, employers have eight hours to file reports about severe injuries in the workplace. Every hospitalization related to a work illness or accident must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours. The previous rule, which also applied to eye losses and amputations, permitted employers to skip reporting hospitalizations unless a minimum of three workers was hospitalized.
OSHA has relaxed government reporting standards for some industries with "relatively low" instances of on-the-job illnesses and accidents. Companies with fewer than 11 employees are not required to maintain in-house records about illnesses and accidents.
Concerns about money are unavoidable for most injured workers and their dependents. Workers' compensation benefits supply some financial comfort, with benefits covering medical costs and providing replacement of income for job injuries. Compensation is also available for survivors' losses related to a worker's death.
Some industrial plant accidents involving heavy machinery, boilers, fires or falls cause permanent injuries. The injured employee may lose the ability to return to the same work he or she once did. Injuries can be so severe an employee loses all ability to work again.
Long-term or lifetime compensation may be needed. Unfortunately, workers' comp benefits often aren't enough to sustain a victim's needs. Workers' compensation attorneys know what additional benefits are available.
In some cases, an employee may recover damages from a negligent third-party through legal actions in Illinois civil courts.