The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Injured Seasonal Workers
While we tend to think of seasonal work as a job to the Christmas season, there are open positions for seasonal workers year-round in different industries. Shopping malls during the holiday season, amusement parks during the summer months, and the agricultural industry at harvest time all need seasonal workers to handle the overload of business during the “make it or break it" period.
In most industries, seasonal workers are considered part-time or temporary employees who must comply with all company policies, rules, regulations, and obligations on following business practices and safety rules but rarely do they get company benefits. Usually, seasonal workers must forego vacation pay, health benefits, time off or sickness, unemployment compensation, paid holidays, and others.
On an average year, there are typically over 600,000 seasonal retail jobs available during the holiday season. An additional nearly 100,000 workers are also hired for seasonal work through shipping companies like UPS and FedEx were attempting to meet the holiday season needs. That said, there are other seasonal jobs available in the wintertime at ski resorts and restaurants that tend to be busier while college students are home. Soon after the new year, tax-preparation firms are ready to hire seasonal employees through the end of April.
During the warm summer months, local and national amusement parks need seasonal employees to work during the hot months. After school itself, fishing expeditions, riverboat cruises, and other companies need additional help. Through the fall months, farmers need agricultural workers and harvesters to pick the fields before the first extreme cold nights of winter arrive.
Seasonal Worker Hazards
Seasonal workers tend to be at higher risk of suffering serious injuries on the job due to a lack of experience and confusion about how to perform a task. Staying safe can be a challenge for any new temporary employee, especially during the first month. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) states that do workers have three times the risk of suffering an on the job injury compared to workers who have held that job for at least a year. Studies reveal that most accidents are the result of performing an unfamiliar task at times without proper training in a hazardous or stressful condition.
Also, seasonal workers are often unsure about the responsibilities and their rights to safety and may be uncomfortable about vocalizing their concerns about unsafe conditions. On-the-job surveys have revealed that four out of five workers are unable to remember ever receiving orientation training or workplace safety training in the first month or year after being hired. This data is not hard to imagine because one out of every three non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries occur in the worker's first year of service or sooner.
Many companies fail to thoroughly and properly train all their seasonal workers to ensure they can safely and competently use the equipment. Most new employees are unaware of what procedures to perform in case of an emergency like when someone is injured or when property damage occurs. Many accidents are the result of a lack of supervision when a full-time employee is not present when an unsupervised seasonal worker is performing their duties.
Seasonal Agricultural Worker
By far, the largest concentrations of seasonal employees work in the agricultural industry. These seasonal and migrant farmworkers are estimated to be a working force of at least 5 million individuals. Many of them perform strenuous repetitive tasks, exposing them to numerous occupational hazards, injuries, and risks. Some of the associated health problems involve musculoskeletal disorders, soft tissue damage, pesticide-related illness, accidents, dermatitis, reproductive health issues, non-infectious respiratory problems, and health issues with their children. Other times, the worker is exposed to communicable diseases and ear and eye infections.
Statistics maintained by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the rate of injuries that occur on the job at 11.7% for agricultural workers. This injury rate is significantly higher compared to other manual labor industries including jobs in manufacturing that rate at 10.6%.
The increased risk of working as a temp agricultural employee during harvesting season is significantly hazardous due to exposure to a variety of factors that can contribute to the worker's injury or death. Many job-related agricultural accidents result in muscle sprains, bone fractures and other harm caused by falling from equipment or ladders. Other injuries occur by heavy lifting, prolonged stooping, carrying heavy loads, or crushed bones, lacerations, and amputation by working around machinery, trucks, and tractors. Additionally, pesticide poisoning is a significant problem when the worker is around direct spraying of dangerous chemicals, carbon monoxide poisoning by operating equipment in confined space, and drowning that occur in lakes and irrigation ditches.
Seasonal Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016, involving employment data of the previous year, Seasonal Workers in Illinois earned $10.86 per hour on average. These earning wages are nearly identical to the national average. See Chart
Seasonal Worker Fatalities and Injuries
In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number of reported job-related injuries suffered by seasonal workers, especially part-time employees working in warehouses, on a construction project, in factories, and in agricultural fields. The rise in injuries is likely the result of the number of additional seasonal workers that companies are hiring every year to avoid the need of paying new employees full-time wages. Hiring seasonal worker saves many of the hassles and problems associated with full-time employment including providing their new hires with health care benefits, retirement plans, paid time off, vacation time, and sick pay.
However, the increased numbers of injuries seasonal workers experience also escalated the number of fatalities and serious injury. Below is just a small sample of those who have been hurt while doing their job as a seasonal employee.
- Case 1: Sacramento, California – In December 2017, a temporary male employee at a sacramental Amazon fulfillment plant died after becoming ill. The worker had vomited blood and was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the next day. The California OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has six months to complete an investigation to determine if Amazon should be cited for violations that harm employees in the workplace.
- Case 2: Washington State – Temporary Mexican seasonal workers who work the fields in northern Washington complained of suffering headaches before one worker became ill with headaches while on the job. The temporary worker had complained to his supervisor that he was suffering headaches and was attempting to purchase a plane ticket home. However, the supervisor ignored the injured victim's pleas for help and instead made the employee get back to work. Later that same day, the victim collapsed and was transported to the local Harborview Medical Center before passing away over the weekend. Others complained of the extreme heat of working in the fields that were ignored by the company supervisor.
- Case 3: San Francisco, California – A seasonal worker recently hired at Amazon.com was killed in December 2013 after equipment crushed him. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) investigators stated that the employee was caught between equipment and crushed. The online real steel Co. hires thousands of seasonal workers to deal with the heavy loads of orders and extra packages required to be delivered to consumers during the holidays.
- Case 4: Atlanta, Georgia – During the midafternoon of December 2017, a UPS worker died after being struck by a semi tractor-trailer at the company's Atlanta loading dock. The 51-year-old employee had been working at the UPS distribution center loading dock just before being hit by a semi-truck. A DeKalb County police spokeswoman stated that “the victim had just stepped off the dock and was standing on the ground between the dock and the trailer that was being backed into the docking door. The truck hit the man, who has not been identified." First responders transported the victim to the hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. UPS provided counseling services to eyewitnesses and other workers at the facility over the incident.
What to do if Injured on the Job
Seasonal employees working in Illinois are entitled to receive workers compensation benefits if they are injured or become ill in a job-related incident. The injured employee has access to medical benefits and payment for time away from work during recovery. However, to receive those benefits, there are certain steps of the employee must take to prove their eligibility. The steps involve:
- Go to the emergency room, urgent care center, or doctor to obtain medical attention as quickly as possible to receive care for your injuries.
- Notify your boss, employer, manager, or supervisor immediately that you have suffered injuries or have become ill in the job-related incident.
- Fill out all the necessary documentation paperwork to file a formal workers compensation claim.
- See the physician who was designated to you by your employer's insurance company who handles workmen's compensation benefits.
You have the same rights to receive financial benefit through medical attention and time away from work as any full-time employee. If for any reason your employer, manager supervisors failed to cooperate during the process of acquiring worker's compensation benefits or refuses to pay the benefits, you will likely need to hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case. It is crucial to remain aware of your rights on obtaining benefits for a job-related incident.
Let Us Assist You in Filing Your Claim
Our attorneys assist injured Seasonal Workers to recover financial compensation under the IL Worker's Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) office now for a Free Case Review to determine your legal options for seeking compensation one every party responsible for your damages.
Did you suffer an injury at work or become ill because of a related hazard associated with your job? You may be worrying about how you will provide the necessities and pay the bills for your family during your recovery. You may believe that you are too sick or too hurt to ever return to work in fear that you will lose the family home, the car, and your ability to provide for your loved ones in the future. You may have no idea where to turn to recover financially from an occupational injury. Many individuals just like you have been in the same situation in the past and sought counsel and advice of a reputable personal injury attorney. Our law firm has assisted thousands of individuals in nearly every occupation, and our attorneys can help your family too.
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