How labor shortages in Illinois unions lead to injury

Illinois skilled trade labor unions have strict regulations about the necessary training, education, and apprenticeships required to be a skilled trades worker, but they also offer ongoing skills training for their members.

Labor unions protect their members by requiring that companies follow their strict safety protocols and by including safety measures as part of the union contract. A large part of following these safety measures is ensuring that the workers are trained and that there are enough of them to safely perform the tasks required of them.

During labor shortages, companies might be more inclined to ignore some of the union’s training and education requirements, and they might be less likely to adhere to the safety standards because they want to get the job done. These dangerous practices lead to increased danger in the workplace and more on-the-job injuries.

If you’ve been hurt at work due to unsafe conditions caused by labor shortages, a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.

illinois union labor shortages

How labor shortages in Illinois unions lead to injury

Labor shortages lead to companies hiring non-union workers in open-shop locations, which may result in different safety precautions taken between union and non-union workers. In addition to a lack of training and knowledge of safety protocols, nonunion workers may pose hazards to others due to their inexperience. Companies desperate to fill employment gaps may not be as stringent on hiring or employee retention requirements.

Hiring untrained workers or simply not hiring enough skilled workers can have several negative impacts on their employees.

Overworked employees

Union contracts strictly regulate the hours members are permitted to work without breaks and rest times. Although some industries permit overtime, companies are often reluctant to schedule union workers for overtime due to the higher cost.

However, labor shortages mean employers might pressure their employees to get the job done regardless of required breaks and rest times, which will result in employees working additional days and longer hours to pick up the slack.

Overworked employees are more likely to suffer burnout, which causes:

  • Inattention to job tasks
  • Excessive fatigue and increased mental distancing from the job
  • Irritability or aggression

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies employee burnout as a serious liability risk that employers in any business sector should take seriously. Employees suffering from burnout and being overworked could be more at risk for developing mental health issues like anxiety or depression and may be more vulnerable to substance abuse.

Inexperienced workers

Labor unions have strict standards for apprenticeships, journeymen, and other professional roles. When companies hire inexperienced workers, the overall quality of work can suffer. Inexperience often leads to simple mistakes that can harm others, like failure to follow industry-specific safety protocols.

Novice workers may also be thrust into a position of having to learn on the job, which means that their lack of knowledge could distract other employees and lead to workplace accidents. Inexperience with certain equipment or machinery may mean that they don’t recognize a dangerous problem until it’s too late.

Inadequate training

Companies that rush through the hiring process to fill labor gaps may also rush through training. Many specialized trades, like electrical masonry, construction, heavy equipment, or commercial trucking, require certain training, education, and certification. Employers who overlook a lack of pre-employment training could hire unqualified (and therefore dangerous) employees.

Some training is required in the workplace so that an employee can learn the specifics of that job position and how to operate the equipment at the facility. Companies that skimp on in-house training in order to fill holes quickly may end up with a workforce that’s only partially trained and, therefore, more likely to make dangerous mistakes.

 Solutions to the problem

Attracting skilled talent and retaining skilled workers is a goal of any corporation. Solutions range from raising wages and improving employee benefits packages to looking outside the “traditional” hiring pools.

Skilled trade unions may face different challenges in addressing labor shortages. Negotiating stronger contracts can help ensure that only fully trained and certified or licensed employees are hired for specific positions which can reduce the chances of an untrained or inexperienced worker making dangerous mistakes.

Business owners must assess their risk in hiring inexperienced or untrained workers and develop internal safety and training programs to address these risks. Employers are obligated to ensure safe working conditions for workers. Failure to do so could make them liable for subsequent accidents.

Have you been injured on the job? Our workers’ compensation lawyers can help

Were you hurt at work and having difficulty getting the workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to? Our skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys can help you receive compensation for the damages and financial losses you suffered due to your employer’s negligence.

You have the right to a safe working environment. At Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates we help your voice be heard. Contact us today at (800) 985-1819 for a free case review.