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Hackensack Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

Back-to-back New Jersey industrial accidents kill 1, injure 1

Victims of work-related injuries are dependent upon swift action for medical care. Injured Bergen County employees and their families also expect workers' compensation claims to be handled expeditiously to pay for accident-related financial losses. Many families seek legal advice when claim delays and denials add pressure to an already-stressful situation.

Federal safety inspectors recently were called to two, unrelated industrial accidents in Freehold Township. A sanitation worker lost his life in a machinery accident at Freehold Cartage Inc. In a second incident, an employee for an engineering firm suffered a severe leg injury during a digging project.

New Jersey workers' compensation covers mental health claims

When you hear someone has been hurt in a Bergen County workplace, you may assume the harm was physical. That's a fair assumption. However, New Jersey workers' compensation claims also may be filed for injuries to mental health, including claims for victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

You may make another assumption about PTSD, a condition closely associated with combat soldiers. Other professions also involve witnessing horrific experiences. Think about people who experience repeated exposure to danger and violent injuries or deaths – emergency responders may face that daily.

How safe are you on the job when you work outside New Jersey?

Many Bergen County employees cross the state line to go to work every day. That transition means workers who get hurt on the job are covered by different laws than the ones in effect in New Jersey. Public Citizen recently published a report calling for changes to workers' compensation rules to strengthen protection for private sector workers in New York.

The report pointed out state workers were at risk, because few private New York employers were required to draw up and use workplace safety plans. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration can fine employers for safety violations, but federal regulators have a difficult time making good on threats. The report stated OSHA is underfunded and understaffed.