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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Work accident claims life of sanitation worker

Employees of sanitation companies have to cope with unique hazards in their industry. As in any other occupation in New Jersey, employers must ensure that workers are aware of the dangers of their jobs, and they must provide frequent safety training to prevent complacency. This might have played a role in a work accident involving a garbage truck that recently claimed the life of an employee.

According to a police spokesperson, the incident occurred shortly before 1:30 p.m. on a recent Thursday at the headquarters of a New Jersey sanitation company. Reportedly, the 56-year-old employee had his back turned to a garbage truck that was backing up toward him. The operator of the truck -- also an employee of the same company -- failed to notice the worker and knocked him down, causing fatal injuries.

Objections to new rule that can prevent some medical expenses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new rule to limit exposure to respirable crystalline silica became effective in New Jersey and across the country on Sept. 23, but there is significant resistance to it. Some groups have resorted to the courts to call on the presidential administration to stop application of the rules that are claimed to cause financial ruin for some companies, despite the fact that prevention of silicosis will save millions of dollars in medical expenses. However, OSHA says the agency will assist businesses that show a willingness to comply.

OSHA maintains that the new regulations will positively affect approximately two million employees and prevent 900 cases of silicosis per year. The agency further estimates the rule will save the lives of 600 workers each year. Those opposed to the law claim a 95 percent drop in reported illnesses related to silica over the past four decades.

Recyler fined with $25,000 for negligent operating of machinery

Business owners in New Jersey are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. One of their responsibilities is to ensure only qualified personnel operate equipment such as forklifts. Negligent operating of machinery can cause catastrophic injuries or death in the blink of an eye.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently fined a recycling facility over $25,000. The penalty followed the conclusion of an investigation into a fatal workplace accident that claimed the life of a 52-year-old worker last December. OSHA investigators determined that the man was crushed by a forklift.

5 injured on the job in confined space -- only 3 survive

Confined space and hazardous gases pose deadly risks to workers in New Jersey and other states. Both these hazards are covered by the safety regulations prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, noncompliance is more common than what people might think, and this might have been the case in an accident that caused five people to be injured on the job -- two of which did not survive.

Reportedly, the incident occurred at a power plant in a neighboring state where five employees were performing maintenance duties inside a confined area. When they removed a pipe's elbow joint, dangerous hydrogen sulfide escaped, overwhelming the workers. Three of them managed to escape out of the pit, but two workers, ages 34 and 42, did not survive.

Chances of surviving a trench collapse are slim

Whenever a cut, impression or trench is formed in the surface of the earth by using excavation equipment, lives will be at risk. There is little chance of surviving a trench collapse, and New Jersey employers must comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations to protect employees. Any excavation of which the depth exceeds a specified width classifies as a trench that is subject to specific safety rules.

The primary dangers of trenches are cave-ins, falling loads, atmospheric hazards, falls and mobile equipment-related incidents. However, collapses of trench walls are the most likely causes of deaths involving excavation accidents. For the protection of employees, a properly trained individual must inspect the trench before and during every shift to identify potential hazards or any signs that the stability of the trench was compromised.

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.