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New Jersey construction project halted after collapse injures 3

Who is responsible for a Bergen County workplace accident? The answer can be as individual as the circumstances. New Jersey employers carry workers' compensation insurance to provide benefits for employees injured on the job and their families, but other compensation may be available through civil claims when third party negligence is uncovered.

A serious at-work accident frequently triggers an internal probe. Depending upon circumstances, local law enforcers and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration or other agencies may conduct independent evaluations. The results point to fault and sometimes penalties for employers with unsafe working conditions.

The weather was a factor in a recent construction accident in Linden at a large warehouse work site off Route 1 once owned by General Motors. Strong winds had been plaguing the project and forced the general contractor, March Associates Construction Inc., to suspend the use of cranes at the site. High winds also were prevalent the morning three workers were injured in a structural collapse.

March Associates began the building project, a half-million-square foot warehouse, two months earlier. Construction workers used temporary braces to support newly-installed steel columns, a common practice before permanent braces are used. The columns and multiple joists collapsed, just as workers were collecting at the site for an early shift.

A forklift, boom lift and three Hackensack Steel employees were struck by falling materials. The injured men were rushed to hospitals, where two employees were released after treatment. The third man suffered a serious head injury.

Work was suspended for an OSHA investigation. This wasn't the first time federal safety regulators were called to the Linden site. Inspectors did not elaborate on reasons for the earlier visit.

Rules for filing accident claims through workers' compensation or civil court can be complicated, especially when an injured worker's priority is getting well. Legal advice following an at-work accident can help victims recover the maximum compensation available.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "High winds blamed for construction accident at former GM site in Linden" Tom Haydon, Mar. 26, 2014

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