In under three years, nearly $10 million in Illinois taxpayer-funds has been awarded in workers’ compensation payments to employees at the Menard Correctional Center where 389 guards and other workers — more than half the maximum security lockup’s entire staff — have claimed an on-the-job injury, reports the Belleville (Il.) News-Democrat. More than 500 claims, including a $75,678 payment to the prison’s warden in June, have been filed since Jan. 1, 2008.
More than 230 prison workers contend they were injured not because of an accident but through repetitive trauma caused over years mainly by operating manual cell locking mechanisms. Carpal tunnel syndrome can result from repetitive trauma. Mitch Weisz, chairman of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, he has called for an investigation of the Menard claims by the state’s Department of Insurance.