Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

Death on the Job

Our June 2012 Ridge Update reviews the AFL-CIO's annual report, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect," and provides a summary of the death benefits provided under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

In Illinois, the threat of being killed in a job-related accident is real and growing. According to the AFL-CIO’s annual report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” an average of 13 workers per day were killed on the job in 2010.  The number of workers dying in workplace accidents has continued to rise since 2004.    The new 2010 data just released shows that more than 3.8 million workers across all industries experienced work-related injuries and illnesses in 2010.

The most recent debate regarding the Illinois workers’ compensation system has centered around how to lower the cost of benefits provided to employees, when it should focus on how to make our workplaces safer.  According to the AFL-CIO’s report, Illinois suffered 206 worker fatalities in 2010, ranking it 26th on the list of safest states.   Of these 206 fatalities, 73 were transportation incidents, 40 were the result of assaults and violent acts, 39 were from contact with objects and equipment, 31 were from falls, 15 were from exposure to harmful substances or environments, and 7 were from fires and explosions. 

In Illinois, the surviving spouse and/or minor children of the deceased worker are entitled to weekly benefits. If the worker does not leave a surviving spouse or minor children, benefits may be paid to certain other family members that were at least 50% dependent on the deceased worker’s income for support. The weekly benefit is two-thirds of the deceased employee’s gross average weekly wage during the 52 weeks before the injury, subject to certain minimums and maximums. The minimum weekly benefit for injuries occurring after July 15, 2011 is $473.03. The weekly benefit is paid for 25 years, or up to $500,000.00, whichever is more. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act also provides for a benefit of $8,000.00 to the survivor or the person paying for the burial expenses.

These benefits provide little comfort to the families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents.  Employers in Illinois need to do a better job of looking after the safety and welfare of employees in the workplace. The Illinois legislature should enact fair and effective rules to strengthen employee safety. This would decrease accidents and reduce workers’ compensation costs. If you think your job is unsafe, request an OSHA inspection by clicking here.  You can also file a complaint with the Safety Division of the Illinois Department of Labor by clicking here.

At Ridge & Associates, we take workplace safety seriously.  If you have concerns about your workplace or questions about the death benefits provided in Illinois, please contact us.
© 2010 by Ridge & Downes - All rights reserved.