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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

As construction has increased, safety compliance has suffered

The U.S. is experiencing a residential building boom. That is good news for the millions of people who earn their living in the construction industry. However, it has also led to more worksite injuries and fatalities. Construction-related deaths rose by 5 percent in 2014.

One key reason, according to experts, is that the increase in construction projects has placed a strain on the resources of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency doesn't have enough people to properly oversee these sites to make sure that required safety measures are being followed and workers have the equipment and gear they need to prevent injury and illness.

Fatal accidents while backing up are strikingly common

It's been said that a high percentage of car accidents happen when drivers are moving in reverse, even though they do it for such a small percentage of the time that they are behind the wheel, and the same thing applies to the construction industry. Heavy equipment and large trucks that are used on site pose a serious risk due to their size, blind spots, and the noise of a construction site.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, two of the top types of accidents that are linked to injuries and deaths in construction happen when workers are caught in-between or struck by equipment. This includes instances when vehicles are backing up.

New Jersey's industries not immune from workers' accidents

New Jersey boasts a lot of important industries. While safety is always undergoing improvements in the state's industrial workforce, accidents still happen. From jobs in the chemical industries and manufacturing to positions in the state's warehouses, industrial work poses many hazards to those who choose industrial careers over more sedentary work.

Industrial accidents occur for many reasons such as improper equipment or materials maintenance, improperly handled heavy materials or even third party negligence. Workers' compensation provides those in the industrial workforce with financial assistance should an industrial accident lead to injuries. Knowing they are covered by workers' comp also gives employees a sense of security about what would happen if they suffered a work-related injury.

New Jersey emergency responder dies after daughter's crash

New Jersey emergency responders of all kinds face daily risks to their health and even their lives. This includes firefighters, emergency services personnel and law enforcement officers. Some are injured by everything from heavy lifting to violence to fire. Others inhale toxic substances or suffer vehicle accidents as they rush to the scene of an emergency.

It was only at the end of 2015, after relentless lobbying by comedian Jon Stewart, legislators and victims, that Congress voted to extend the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for the next 75 years. This legislation compensates first responders who have suffered serious health problems as a result of working at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.

The inherent risks of the construction industry

The work that construction workers do helps to keep New Jersey's physical infrastructure intact, building homes, roads and places of business. It's very important work, but it also carries with it some inherent risks. While safety measures can help to reduce these risks, they're never doing to do away with them entirely. Examples of these risks and hazards include:

1. Work on tall structures and at heights, which can lead to falls. Serious injuries can occur even on low-level projects. For example, a one-story fall while working on a house could be just as deadly as a fall while building a skyscraper.2. Work on excavations, which brings risk both because of falls and because of all of the heavy equipment that must be used.3. Excessive noise, which can damage a worker's hearing for the rest of his or her life. Hearing loss cannot be reversed.4. Inhalation of dust, which can lead to respiratory issues. These issues can be even worse if the dust being inhaled is composed of lead paint, asbestos and other materials.

Is it possible to contract a disease in the workplace?

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a lung condition that typically worsens over time. Most people associate COPD with smoking, but that is not the only way a person can contract the illness. As with other lung conditions, some workplace elements can make COPD an occupational risk.

In 2003, estimates put the relative incidence of adult COPD at over 10 million cases in the United States. However, some evidence suggests that COPD may be under-diagnosed because in that same year approximately 24 million adults in the nation suffered from impaired lung function. While cigarette smoking can cause COPD, the CDC points out that around 15 percent of the disease can be traced to occupations in the U.S.

Healthy workers help minimize workers' compensation costs

Some workers here in New Jersey and around the country may be healthier thanks to their employers' efforts to curb workers' compensation costs. As one risk management executive notes, employers can minimize the number and severity of illnesses and injuries eligible for workers' comp by creating a "healthy and safe work environment." Employees who are fit and healthy are less likely to suffer injuries. They also tend to recover faster.

Healthy employees can save employers money in other ways, too, such as on health insurance costs. Further, it's just common sense that people tend to take fewer sick days and are less likely to have to take disability leave if they are healthy. People who feel better are more likely to be better at their jobs than if they're sick, fatigued or stressed. In fact, one professor recently wrote an opinion piece in "The Wall Street Journal" calling for more companies to hire chief health officers to help them improve the health of their workforce.

What is 'voluntary tender' and is it right for you?

If you suffered a work-related injury and are dealing with the workers' compensation process, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all of the rules, terminology and choices. Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with the New Jersey workers' compensation system. We know that the decisions made about workers' comp can impact our clients' financial well-being for a long time -- perhaps for a lifetime.

Some decisions can be irrevocable, so it's essential that workers have all of the necessary information and understand the ramifications of their decisions. We provide guidance to help them determine what will be best for them and their families.

Mobile phones can increase danger on a construction site

A lot has been said lately about the dangers of texting and driving, or using cell phones in any way while behind the wheel. However, it's also important to look at the way that these distractions can be dangerous in other settings, including a construction site.

Take, for example, the case of a site manager who was hit by a dump truck that was backing up. The man was rushed to the hospital, but he was so badly injured that he passed away.

Shoulder injuries that might occur from overuse

The shoulder is one of the most hard-working areas of the human anatomy. In fact, they work so hard and so faithfully that most people take the shoulders for granted. Without healthy shoulders you could experience severe pain and lose the ability to perform common tasks such as reaching, lifting, carrying and many others. These consequences could occur suddenly or gradually over a long period.

It is true that shoulder injuries can happen in many different situations, but often, they occur during the course of work. When an injury to the shoulder happens suddenly, it is easy to determine whether or not it happened while working. It is when shoulder injuries from overuse develop gradually that trouble identifying the exact nature of the problem could arise.