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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

What are the job safety rights of a Bergen County worker?

Employees' rights to safe work environments are protected in New Jersey at state and federal levels. The Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program is a state-run program reserved for public sector employees. The private sector workforce has similar protections under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The agencies are responsible for developing and enforcing occupational safety standards. Many Bergen County employees may not be aware of the rights they have to monitor an employer's safety practices and report violations. For instance, if a worker worries that negligent safety precautions could cause a construction accident, he or she could file a complaint with a New Jersey OSHA office.

North Bergen worker killed by driver in construction zone

Laws in many states are designed to deter drivers from risking the lives of people who work in construction zones. In New Jersey, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, any fines associated with moving violations in a construction zone are doubled whether or not workers are at the site. Negligent drivers who ignore the rules endanger the safety of everyone around them.

A North Bergen man was working in a construction zone on the Garden State Parkway when he and another worker were hit by a car. The overnight work site was set up in the right lane of the highway. State troopers said that an SUV driver switched from the center lane to the right lane before the accident.

Surgery followed New Jersey worker’s industrial accident

A Bergen County employer should be informed as soon as possible after a work injury occurs, is suspected or becomes known. Making that report in a timely manner is important, so employers can file claims with workers' compensation insurers for employee benefits. If a worker is incapacitated by an injury or dies, someone else may file the report on the employee's behalf.

A New Jersey worker was hospitalized recently following an on-the-job accident. The man was injured while operating a high-pressure hose at Bayonne Dry-Dock & Repair, Inc. Water hoses are used regularly by the company in painting and blasting work.

Elevator shaft falls kills worker at New Jersey apartments

Consumerwatch.com reported there were approximately 900,000 elevators nationwide on which riders made 18 billion annual trips. An average of 27 people dies in elevator accidents every year. Fifty percent of victims who are killed die while performing elevator service or maintenance jobs or who are otherwise at work.

Two workers from United States Elevators, Inc. based in Fairfield, New Jersey, were dispatched to an Atlantic City apartment building earlier this month. The men were brothers. The 150-unit structure, home to disabled and elderly residents, has two elevators which receive annual inspections by the same company.

New Jersey occupational lung cancer case restored in appeal

Bergen County employers are obligated to maintain safe workplaces. The task becomes difficult when employees are exposed regularly to dangers because of the type of work they perform. When known hazards are present, companies must make every effort to remove or reduce threats to workers' health.

A widow's case against a railroad company was restored recently by an appellate panel's decision. The wrongful death suit concerns a former conductor for Consolidated Rail Corp., known to most New Jersey residents as Conrail. The man died nearly six years ago after being diagnosed with lung cancer, which his widow claimed was caused by inhaling train diesel fuel smoke.

New Jersey workers' compensation coverage for state employees

New Jersey employers are required to carry insurance covering employees who become ill or hurt on the job. Employers can opt to use a self-insurance program or purchase workers' compensation insurance through a commercial carrier. State workers in Bergen County, like all other state employees, receive benefits from a self-funded or state-funded plan under the Division of Risk Management.

Compensation is paid for medical treatment, lost wages and permanent disability. In exchange, workers forfeit the right to pursue individual legal claims against an employer. Employees do not receive workers' compensation automatically – there is a qualification process.

New Jersey work safety violator fined over $308,000

A single federal agency is responsible for regulating and enforcing safety rules in New Jersey and other U.S. workplaces – all 7 million of them. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors also investigate complaints and workplace accidents. OSHA's staff isn't large enough to cover all this ground in one year, so the agency prioritizes.

At the top of the list are inspections of companies where worker injuries and deaths already have occurred or could happen due to an imminent hazard. OSHA issues citations to safety violators and recommends fines. A follow-up inspection reveals whether a company has corrected unsafe conditions.

Demolition dangers highlighted by New Jersey wall collapse

It takes longer to build something than destroy it. Demolition work seems easier and safer than construction, from an outside observer's point of view, but demolishing a Bergen County structure takes more than jolting jackhammers and wrecking balls. Pre-planning is critical to demolition projects.

Workplace accidents can happen quickly during poorly planned demolitions. Last month, a New Jersey worker died near the completion of a project, when the wall of a Blockbuster Video store fell on top of the man. Last summer, half a dozen people were killed during a building demolition in a neighboring state.

New Jersey worker's death draws federal lawmakers' attention

Companies that violate worker safety regulations in Bergen County are aware the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has enforcement limitations. OSHA can recommend fines against violators, which often aren't meaty enough to stop continued unsafe practices. Federal regulators also aren't allowed to close down businesses.

A New Jersey man's death last year in an industrial accident in a neighboring state has come to the attention of a Senate subcommittee. OSHA was quizzed about the agency's response to the temporary worker's death in a letter from subcommittee head Senator Robert Casey. Casey felt the agency could have done more to punish the company where the man died after falling in a hopper.

New Jersey workers and workplaces benefit from ergonomics

A Bergen County employer who purchases new desk chairs for an entire office simultaneously may be doing employees and the company a favor. Workers forced to work in uncomfortable positions repeatedly or for lengthy periods often develop health problems. To companies, those problems mean preventable New Jersey workers’ compensation claims, worker absences and lost profits. You’ve probably heard about or used ergonomically-designed furniture or work tools, but what does that really mean? Ergonomic designers study how people work and strive to maximize comfort and safety in working environments, in a quest to boost worker productivity. The new chairs in your office are supposed to make work easier to do, which means more gets done for the company’s benefit.