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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Work accident claims life of plastics factory employee

Industrial facilities typically pose multiple safety hazards. Company owners are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Unfortunately, that responsibility is frequently disregarded -- especially if there is a choice between profits and employee safety. It is unclear whether a safety violation led to a fatal work accident at a New Jersey plastic manufacturer on July 25.

Some of the typical safety precautions required in factory setups include safety guards and screens installed on machines to prevent workers from making contact with dangerous moving parts. Another hazard that can cause a severe injuries is the lack of lockout/tagout devices on equipment. These must be present on all machines to prevent accidental activation while repairs or maintenance takes place.

Traumatic brain injury can occur in any workplace

Although certain industries are more dangerous than others, head injuries can occur in any workplace. A New Jersey office worker can slip or trip and knock his or her head against the floor, or a steel bar can hit a construction worker's head. The Brain Injury Institute says one in five occupational traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls in the workplace, from slipping on spilled coffee to tripping on uneven walkways and falling from heights.

It is suggested that the high number of brain injury incidents among workers may be partly due to the large number of older employees in the U.S. workforce. Reportedly, the percentage of the workers older than 65 years have increased by over 100 percent over the past 30 years. They are not only less steady on their feet, but their injuries tend to be more serious than in younger workers.

The importance of the reporting of occupational diseases

Both the federal government and the State of New Jersey strive to prevent occupational diseases among their workers in the labor force. An occupational disease can result from an exposure to an element, such as a gas, chemical, noise or heavy metals that occurs in the workplace, which causes or furthers a condition or worsens a preexisting condition.

The New Jersey Department of Health Occupational Health Surveillance Unit employs strategies and working solutions to reduce hazards in New Jersey workplaces. When a worker suffers an occupational disease, because it may retain the necessary work-related connection, he or she may find redress under New Jersey’s Workers Compensation laws. It is important that proper reporting of the illness and other details occur in order to promote future safety and to provide possible benefits to the injured worker under the state laws.

Employer responsibilities and personal protective equipment

There are times when job duties at a New Jersey workplace may put workers in danger, even though the companies have done everything possible to eliminate hazards. In these cases, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that employers should provide the necessary personal protective equipment to lower the chances of harm in an accident.

Making PPE available is not enough to keep workers safe. Employers should ensure that employees are trained in what to wear, when and how to wear it, and how to maintain it. If the fit is not correct or the PPE is damaged in some way, a worker could be at high risk of an injury in a workplace accident.

Soft tissue injuries in the workplace

Some injuries are obvious from the moment an accident takes place at your New Jersey job. A broken bone, head trauma or burn may send you or your co-worker to the emergency department immediately. At Parisi & Gerlanc, Attorneys at Law, we understand that not all workplace injuries are instantly visible at the moment of the incident, and some even develop slowly, making them difficult to identify. We often support workers who suffer soft tissue damage on the job.

HealthHype.com explains that a soft tissue injury can be the result of a trauma to one of your muscles, tendons and ligaments. This does not always occur at a single point in time, though. Overuse and repetitive stress are also hazards to your soft tissues. For example, tendonitis is an inflamed tendon, and that damage could progress gradually. Bursitis is a condition that often coincides with tendonitis, and it involves damage to the fluid pouches that prevent friction from the movement of muscles and tendons over the bones.

Why more people aren’t filing for workers’ compensation benefits

Workers’ compensation insurance should provide a safety net for employees who are hurt on the job in New Jersey. After an injury, this system should cover medical costs and a portion of lost wages. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, of the injured workers who qualify for benefits, less than 40 percent apply. Those with job-related illnesses are even less likely to receive benefits; estimates of those who are not compensated for their illness go as high as 97 percent.

Unethical employers are part of the problem. Because independent contractors are not eligible for benefits, many employers misclassify their employees. This practice is particularly widespread in the construction industry, where it is common for companies to contract out the labor rather than hiring and training their own employees. Other companies use temporary employees for their most dangerous jobs. Although these workers should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, fear of putting their job prospects in danger may keep them from reporting injuries and filing a claim.

What is killing NJ workers?

An accident can happen to anyone anywhere, and your workplace in New Jersey is no exception—a fact that data confirms each year. The Insurance Journal explains that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects this information on fatal workplace accidents from a wide range of agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, among others.

Although you may check various state and federal information sources to see the preliminary numbers throughout the year, the official statistics go through a rigorous verification process before being released to the public. After a review of over 21,000 documents, the BLS has concluded its research for 2015 and made the data available.

What you should know about back injuries

It is natural to make plans for the things you want to do when you get off work in Bergen. However, a workplace injury could upset more than one evening’s activities, especially if your back is affected. At Parisi & Gerlanc, our team often answers questions about spinal injuries for those who have been hurt on the job.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that more than 600,000 workers are affected by back disorders every year, whether from a trauma or a series of repeated motions that put strain on the discs, vertebrae, muscles or ligaments. Even though your back injury is not likely to be fatal, they are among the top reasons for work-related disabilities.

What does a workers’ comp insurance investigator want to know?

Your New Jersey employer is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Like any type of insurance, after a claim is made, the company investigates the circumstances that led to the injury. According to the FHM Insurance Company, an investigator uncovers the details of your workplace accident by asking some standard questions.

The insurance company wants to verify that you were injured, and also wants to document the specifics of the accident. This may entail asking witnesses what they saw, and if there was anyone else involved in the situation. If there were machines or tools being used, the investigator will ask whether you were trained in the proper operation of them and if you were supplied with the necessary protective equipment.

Burn injuries: hazards and outcomes

Regardless of what profession you work in, one on-the-job injury that you are not exempt from is a burn. Your New Jersey workplace should have safety measures in place to minimize your risk, from providing personal protective equipment such as gloves and eyewear to replacing frayed electric cords. At Parisi & Gerlanc, we have provided legal assistance to many people who sustained burn injuries at work.

The American Safety Council states that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act has placed responsibility on your employer to ensure that you are safe at work. Not only does this involve removing obvious threats, it also includes placing warning labels on substances or in areas that may pose a danger. You and other employees should undergo training in how to identify burn hazards, and how to interact with any substances or situations that are common to your job duties and your workplace.