Construction is one of the most dangerous careers in America, with one in ten construction workers injured each year while working on the roads, infrastructure, and buildings across the country. This often involves the use of dangerous and heavy equipment and techniques such as abrasive blasting equipment.
Abrasive blasting, also known as sandblasting because of the use of silica (sand) as a popular abrasive, also uses crushed coal and even walnut shells for more sensitive areas. Abrasive blasting is used to remove paint and other materials to clean it, typically before repainting, and while it is a highly effective method, it is not without risks if proper precautions are not taken.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.
Dangers of Abrasive Blasting
Abrasive blasting equipment accidents can occur for a number of reasons. Abrasive blasting creates dust. Breathing in this dust can result in a condition known as silicosis, which is deadly. This dust can also contain dangerous chemicals, making it important that those performing abrasive blasting and in the general vicinity wear blast hoods, gloves, and long sleeves at all times. It is also important that blasters do not allow their limbs to come into contact with the blasting stream. Abrasive blasting at close range can cause painful and devastating injuries, including deep tissue injuries and loss of limbs.
Injuries due to abrasive blasting are not always a direct cause of the dust. Abrasive blasting is an extremely loud activity, putting those performing the blasting at-risk for serious hearing loss. Workers should wear earplugs to prevent hearing loss, especially in enclosed spaces.
The most common way that abrasive blasting injuries occur is when the “dead man” switch is overrun. The “dead man” switch is the device that will shut off the abrasive blasting equipment if the switch is not being held down by the blaster. For example, if the worker drops the hose, the switch should shut off the flow of the abrasive being used through the nozzle. Unfortunately, some workers will modify this safety to prevent it from being held down the entire time, ensuring that the “dead man” switch will not shut off as it is designed to do. A loose abrasive blasting hose can whip around and spray those in the immediate vicinity, putting them at risk for serious injuries.
Abrasive blasting equipment may also be defective in design and/or manufacturing, or a worker may not be properly trained in how to operate the equipment in a safe manner, again, putting themselves and others at risk.
Liability in Construction Accidents
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH ACT), employers have an obligation to maintain a safe working environment and follow the regulations of OSHA. If the employer, subcontractor, equipment manufacturer, or another employee fails to follow the appropriate standards of care and their actions or inactions cause an accident, they could be liable for the injuries and damages their negligence caused.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits, including medical and rehabilitation expenses, partial wages, and disability benefits to an injured worker regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. Workers compensation does typically prohibit an employee from suing their employer for the accident; however, there may be other options including filing a claim against a negligent third-party, such as a subcontractor, vendor, defective equipment designer and/or manufacturer, or general contractor who is not the employee’s direct employer.
Construction accidents are often complex, involving multiple parties and defendants. This is why it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine your rights under Illinois law.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to negligence on the job site or a defective product, the lawyers at Mike Agruss Law can review your claim and determine if there were unsafe working conditions, potential OSHA violations, and other hazards that may have existed at the time of your accident. They will also determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages and what compensation you may be entitled to.
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