Work Injuries Still Under-Reported Amidst Illinois Debate at Ending Workers Comp

Arise Chicago Worker Center (ACWC) reports that 41 percent of workers they surveyed never received job safety training and 30 percent never reported their injuries for fear of retaliation. These alarming statistics indicate that worker safety is not being valued and that worker productivity and morale are undoubtedly suffering as a consequence. The ACWC study focused on Chicago immigrant workers in construction, maintenance, cleaning and restaurants.

A staggering 59 percent of workers were neither aware of their rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act nor of OSHA-mandated equipment and safety practices. “Job ghettoes, where foreign-born groups seeking employment provide a steady stream of workers to jobs that are undesirable to U.S. born workers – in residential construction, agriculture, and service – tend to be the most hazardous jobs and the jobs that fly below the radar of wage and hour regulation,” said the Arise Chicago study.

Non-fatal workplace injuries could be under-reported by 80 percent, says the Government Accountability Office. Unsafe and unhealthy working conditions in low-wage jobs deserve as much attention as white-collar job environments. ACWC’s report suggests, “Increasing penalties for health and safety violations, which now often amount to little more than a slap on the wrist.” The report also recommended that OSHA reach out to worker centers and community groups, and that the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division work more in tandem with OSHA.

Illinois is at the center of a heated debate to dramatically weaken the state’s workers’ compensation. Recently, some have even called for the end of the workers’ compensation system. The state’s ultimate decision on workers’ compensation can greatly affect how employers view the program as well as how states around the nation look at their own policies. Illinois lawmakers are pushing to audit state employees workers’ compensation claims and also bar employees who have been convicted of reckless homicide, forcible felony and aggravated DUI from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Federal prosecutors are also investigating Illinois’ program after newspaper reports detailed hundreds of prison employees receiving workers’ compensation awards.

“It’s important that any changes in the state program should uphold the protection of workers hurt on the job,” said Anders Lindell, the spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Every worker deserves the right to seek workers’ compensation if their claim is valid, no matter if they are a legal immigrant, or low- or high-wage worker.
Workers injured on the job are still currently entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. When a claim is denied, a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney will explore the individual’s options to get the medical treatment and financial support they need. Sometimes even vocational rehabilitation is critical to restoring an individual’s ability to work.

The law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg is known for their successful track record of winning workers’ compensation lawsuits. Robert I. Briskman, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience helping workers fight claims against their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company throughout Chicago, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Edwin Reyes, also one of their Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys, has received the prestigious Chicago Bar Association “Vanguard Award” for making the law and legal profession more accessible to and inclusive of the community.

To learn more, visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com or call 877-595-HURT (4878)

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