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Elevator shaft falls kills worker at New Jersey apartments

Consumerwatch.com reported there were approximately 900,000 elevators nationwide on which riders made 18 billion annual trips. An average of 27 people dies in elevator accidents every year. Fifty percent of victims who are killed die while performing elevator service or maintenance jobs or who are otherwise at work.

Two workers from United States Elevators, Inc. based in Fairfield, New Jersey, were dispatched to an Atlantic City apartment building earlier this month. The men were brothers. The 150-unit structure, home to disabled and elderly residents, has two elevators which receive annual inspections by the same company.

The siblings were called to perform routine maintenance. One of the repairmen, age 25, was killed after falling down an elevator shaft at the 15-story apartment building. Investigators, including safety inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have not released statements about how or why the accident occurred.

The worker's body was found at the base of an elevator shaft on the second floor, but police did not say how far the man fell. Reports failed to mention whether anyone saw the accident happen. United States Elevators has no record of safety violations in OSHA records.

According to the U.S. Labor Department and Consumer Product Safety Commission, half of all elevator accidents fatalities, among workers and non-workers, are the result of falls down shafts. Fifty-three percent of the work-related deaths occur during elevator repair or installation. Another 30 percent happen when victims are working near but not on elevators.

A work injury or death does not have to happen on an employer's property for a victim or survivors to claim workers' compensation benefits. Coverage is available for employees who perform work off-site, too.

Compensation for workplace accidents may not be confined to government benefits. Victims have the right to file separate liability claims in civil courts against third parties whose negligence caused an injury or death.

Source: The Inquirer, "Elevator repairman dies in fall in Atlantic City building" Michael Boren, Aug. 17, 2014

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