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Worker protections at New Jersey construction sites

Bergen County companies are responsible for job site safety. For construction companies, those duties include taking precautions to prevent accidents at every job site and training employees about working safely. Training should, but often doesn't, provide guidance for working with or around potentially dangerous tools, equipment and machines and responding to accidents.

A lack of fall protection and scaffolding and ladder violations topped the list of construction safety citations issued by federal inspectors in 2014. Falls are the greatest danger facing construction workers in New Jersey and throughout the U.S.

More than 20 percent of all workplace fatalities in 2013 occurred within in the construction industry, with almost 37 percent of the deaths caused by falls.

Falls are the No. 1 cause of fatal construction accidents, with three other types of accidents listed among the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's "Fatal Four." More than 10 percent of construction deaths are caused by workers being struck by objects. Workers are hit by moving cranes and hoists, killed in roof and wall collapses and fatally injured by fallen objects from overhead work.

About nine percent of construction fatalities in 2013 were caused by electrocution. Another 2.6 percent of worker deaths occurred, when employees were caught in or between objects. These accidents all have one thing in common: proper safety measures can prevent them.

Employers can provide -- and insist upon the use of -- safety equipment like hardhats, equipment inspections, toe boards and safety goggles to reduce chances of serious accidents. Companies can restrict work in areas where hoists, cranes and other equipment are being used. Signs and barriers can be placed around overhead work zones, so ground level employees have adequate warnings about dangers.

Benefits are paid for New Jersey job-related accidents through workers' compensation insurance. Liability claims may provide additional compensation, when third-party negligence contributes to a worker's injury or death.

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