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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.

The lightweight object fell about 500 feet – at a speed of approximately 140 mph -- bounced off a piece of metal about 10 feet off the ground and hit the 58-year-old delivery driver in the head. The victim, a construction worker delivering drywall as an independent contractor, reportedly was not wearing a safety helmet. Moments before the accident, the man was leaning inside a vehicle to talk to the occupant.

The fallen worker quickly was transported to a hospital. The man died during treatment after suffering a cardiac arrest. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into the fatal construction accident.

The federal agency investigates workplace fatalities to find out whether employers violated safety regulations. Workers' compensation benefits and liability lawsuits are not dependent upon the outcome of OSHA investigations, although negative findings can support claims for compensation.

Family members of New Jersey employees killed in job accidents may be entitled to workers' compensation death benefits. Benefits cover financial losses suffered by dependents including funeral expenses, a decedent's accident-related medical bills and the loss of a wage earner's income.

For the most part, employers may not be taken to court over work-related accidents that injure or kill employees. However, an attorney can tell you whether additional compensation is possible through third-party claims.

Source: New York Post, "Tape measure falls 50 stories, killing worker" Dana Sauchelli, Leonica Valentine and Danika Fears, Nov. 03, 2014

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