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Employer safety obligations start before work injuries happen

Anyone with a measure of experience with construction knows it can be dangerous. On-the-job injury may be common across the central Illinois region, though regulators would argue that wouldn't be the case if employers fulfilled safety obligations to their workers from the outset of every project.

Unfortunately, that doesn't occur all the time. In some cases, it's not a matter of a one-time oversight. Sometimes, the problem can be chronic. That's the allegation the Occupational Safety and Health Administration makes against one Belleville roofing company.

OSHA observes the contractor has a "long history of putting his workers in danger." One area director describes the contractor as having "a callous disregard" for worker safety and "utter indifference" to the law.

That statement follows a probe this year in which investigators found five employees lacked fall protection at one site as they worked 13 feet off the ground. But OSHA notes that the company's record of violations goes back to 2006. It is delinquent on paying nearly $270,000 in penalties and regulators are seeking another $89,000 in citations for the latest infraction.

Laws of Illinois and at the federal level require employers to provide safe work environments for employees. Failure to meet the standard results in events that leave workers seriously hurt or killed. Workers' compensation benefits should follow, but if an employer has a history of ignoring safety up front, how likely is it that obtaining benefits will be easy after an injury?

Not only do you as an injured worker deserve all the help the law requires, but you also should not have to worry about retaliation if you do make a claim - something that does happen. A skilled attorney can help protect your rights.

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