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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Continuing analysis of workplace injuries and illnesses

The U.S. government requires Bergen County employers to keep records about illnesses and injuries among employees. Companies aren't reporting every cold and cough, but they are keeping tabs on how worker health conditions affect the workplace.

The contents of a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report covered the numbers associated with nonfatal health problems among workers, in and out of the private sector, during 2013. More than 3 million illness and injury cases were reported that year in non-government workplaces. The health and safety of government employees fared much worse than their private sector counterparts.

Resolving disputes over New Jersey workers' comp benefits

Bergen County employers or their insurers may argue against claims filed by workers with job-related injuries or illnesses. Dispute resolutions are possible through hearings through the New Jersey Division of Workers' Compensation. Informal hearings are non-binding, unlike formal hearings that can lead to trial.

The hearings are conducted by assigned judges in the worker or employer's county. Workers are not required to hire an attorney for these proceedings, although legal representation is strongly advised. The injured party pays capped legal costs for informal hearings resulting in compensation; fees are shared with an employer or insurer in formal cases.

Workplace chemical exposure and New Jersey workers

Bergen County workers can become ill without making an immediate connection between an illness or disease and a job environment. Unlike many work injuries, illnesses can take time to develop, diagnose and trace to a source in the workplace. Employees must report a work-related illness to an employer as soon as possible to meet filing deadlines set for New Jersey workers' compensation benefits.

Let's say you are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis from exposure to smoke or chemicals. Unless you work alone, it's likely other employees at the company are at risk of developing the same condition. Reporting this condition may help you and co-workers get the compensation required to cover medical expenses and wages losses.

When employers fail to carry New Jersey workers’ comp insurance

State laws require employers to self-insure or carry coverage for job-related accidents and illnesses affecting employees. Every New Jersey employer and some out-of-state employers must have some form of workers' compensation coverage. Employees hurt at work are not left without options when employers break these rules.

Injured employees can receive New Jersey workers' compensation benefits, despite the shortcomings of employers. The Uninsured Employer's Fund was set up to provide benefits to injured workers in this situation. Benefits aren't automatic – workers must report the employer's lack of coverage to the state.

The costs of ladder and scaffolding falls for New Jersey workers

Vulnerability to job injuries is something that concerns certain types of Bergen County workers more than others. Employees most prone to injuries are those engaged in high-risk physical activities, like working with large machines or performing tasks at great heights.

Construction site accidents can be among the most devastating for victims and their families. Injuries may be severe and disabling, threatening the wage earner's health and livelihood. Coverage for injury-related medical costs and wages losses are accessible through workers' compensation claims.

Fatal construction accident caused by fallen tape measure

Bergen County companies are expected to design safety plans to limit workers' exposure to on-the-job dangers or risks. Simply having a plan isn't enough. Employers are responsible for training employees how to work safely and supervising workers to make sure plans are carried out.

A man delivering materials to a Jersey City condominium construction project died recently, after he was struck on the head by a one-pound tape measure. The tape measure slipped from the hands of another worker, an employee of AJD Construction, who was 50 stories off the ground working on a wall in the partially-completed, residential high-rise.

What New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits are available?

Workers' compensation benefits are paid to Bergen County employees who suffer work-related illnesses or injuries. Mandatory employer insurance is the source of the benefits for workers and their dependents. Benefits cover short- and long-term medical treatment, employee income losses, temporary or permanent disability and death.

Employers retain the right to select the health care providers involved in a worker's treatment, unless an injury is the result of an emergency. The medical professional preferences of an employee also supersede an employer's choices, when necessary care is wrongfully denied.

First responder workers' comp benefits guaranteed under bill

The first time the legislation reached the desk of Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey vetoed it. It's not certain how Christie feels about an amended bill that would make it easier for public safety workers to receive workers' comp benefits. The Senate has given approval to the revised Thomas P. Canzanella 21st Century First Responders Protection Act.

The bill is named after a late Hackensack firefighter who was among the crews exposed to toxins following the September 2001 attack at the World Trade Center. The legislation, outlined on the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police website, ensures first responders receive medical benefits for certain injuries related to their work.

How can I find out about toxins in my New Jersey workplace?

Many New Jersey employees work with or around dangerous chemicals, although workers may not know how harmful they are. Employers are expected to inform workers about toxic chemicals and the hazards they pose to employees' health and safety. Those rules, regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are sometimes ignored.

The agency's Hazard Communication Standard compels chemical manufacturers to label products and include "material safety data sheets." MSDS let chemical buyers know about dangers involved in using the products. This information should be -- but isn't always -- passed along from employers to employees.

Qualifications for New Jersey workplace accident benefits

New Jersey laws protect Bergen County workers injured on the job. Employers are required to self-insure or carry workers' compensation insurance to cover wage losses and medical bills for victims of work-related injuries. Temporary and permanent benefits are paid to eligible employees, and in the event of deaths, to employees' families.

Eligibility depends upon worker status and circumstances surrounding an injury or illness. The victim's job classification must be "employee" -- an independent contractor classification would not fit this criteria. Employer guidelines on this issue are posted in a guide on the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.