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How do New Jersey companies cope with manufacturing accidents?

Some Bergen County companies have no advance plans to deal with worker injuries or deaths. Without preparation, a manufacturing accident triggers an environment of chaos. Catastrophic injuries and fatalities are not the products of every workplace accident, but companies need to plan in case they are.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration tightened rules about workplace accident reporting heading into 2015. Fatalities must be reported to the government, as well as individual job-related hospitalizations, eye loss and amputation injuries. Time limits are set for employers to contact OSHA: eight hours for a fatality and 24 hours for other reportable injuries.

This is one of multiple tasks employers are required to perform in the wake of a serious manufacturing accident. Company officials must be prepared to communicate with harmed and unharmed workers, safety coordinators, emergency personnel, investigators, witnesses, victims' families and the press.

OSHA makes this job a bit easier by providing a standard action plan for job emergencies. The key is to put safety plans in place before harm occurs. OSHA's action plan outlines needs for an assessment of possible emergencies, contact lists, employee participation in rescue and recovery operations and evacuation, communication and reporting strategies.

An employer's first duty is to the injured and workers who might be harm's way. The designation of an in-house emergency coordinator helps company officials understand the scope of the critical situation quickly. Each employee must be trained to identify workplace hazards and follow emergency instructions.

Employees' lives can depend upon how quickly police, fire and medical crews are contacted. Sensitive personal contact with employees and family members of workers injured or killed in accidents is vital.

Companies often conduct internal investigations following an accident. Employers also are expected to preserve evidence and related documents to aid other investigators. Attorneys representing injured employees will examine evidence to support workers' compensation claims and legal actions.

Source: Manufacturing.net, "Catastrophic Workplace Accidents: It Could Happen To You" Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., Dec. 25, 2014

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