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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Construction worker killed in New Jersey during demolition

Construction workers in New Jersey were tearing down a Blockbuster store when a tragic accident took place. They had gotten the building down to one single wall, and that wall suddenly gave way and fell over. One worker was hit by the debris, and he was trapped beneath it, lying in a trench. Rescue workers said that he died at the scene of the accident. The man was 40 years old and leaves behind a pair of children.

The accident happened around 12:30 in the afternoon. Another man was hospitalized after the wall fell down. He was also working on the site, using a backhoe. He did not get hit by the debris, but he was so shaken up by the event that he was experiencing chest pains. The crew was rounded out by another man, but that worker did not have to go to the hospital, and he did not have any reported injuries.

Safety violations uncovered after New Jersey warehouse accident

Temporary workers often long for permanent jobs with perks, health care coverage and retirement plans. Many Bergen County temporary employees may feel that they have no benefits whatsoever, but that's not true when it comes to safety. The well-being of all workers, including short-term employees, is the responsibility of employers and agencies hired to fill temporary positions.

Under rules regulated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, temp agencies are required to check whether employers provide safe working environments. The agencies must conduct employer hazard assessments or confirm one has been done before sending temp employees to work.

Crane accident kills New Jersey worker at edge of Newark Bay

Tools, equipment and machines used in Bergen County construction projects can be dangerous for workers who aren't trained to use them. Qualifications and sometimes certifications are necessary to operate heavy machinery. Safety at construction sites also depends on employer attitudes toward safety, which can be influenced by deadlines and profits.

Crane accidents occur when operators accidentally strike objects, like active power lines, or hit someone outside the cab. The heavy machines also may overturn or collapse when the ground beneath them is unstable. According to the Daily Reporter, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated crane safety rules four years ago, which included making contractors accountable for unsafe ground conditions.

New Jersey worker dies in Maplewood masonry collapse

Safety can take a backseat when precautions aren't used to protect Bergen County construction workers. Employees may be seriously injured or die by failing to follow the right safety procedures or wear protective gear. The worker may be blamed, but in many cases, an employer or third party is liable for harm.

Three construction employees recently were working on a staircase project in Maplewood during a masonry collapse. The men were in the basement of a restaurant, the Coda Kitchen & Bar, when the construction site accident occurred. The fallen masonry trapped and killed a 51-year-old worker and seriously injured one of the other men.