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Subcontractor killed in construction accident at sports arena

Some Hackensack, New Jersey, employees face more dangers commuting than they do at work. Other employees perform tasks in environments, like industrial settings and construction sites, where dangerous conditions are an everyday occurrence. Although employees must be aware of risks, New Jersey employers are responsible for minimizing unsafe working conditions.

A construction accident at Barclays Center -- home court of the Brooklyn Nets, the former New Jersey Nets -- fatally injured a 52-year-old man. DNAinfo.com reported that the ironworker was part of a crew, working since last fall on a "green roof" installation project. Police said the man, a subcontractor, died at the scene.

The victim was helping to facilitate the transfer of steel joists from a truck to a crane when the accident occurred. Beams fell from the truck onto the union worker. An unidentified co-worker blamed the truck driver for unhooking the top-heavy load of steel beams without approval.

No immediate citations were issued. Officials made no statements about the cause for the fatal accident. The Barclays Center roof project was suspended immediately to allow police and the New York City Department of Buildings investigators to gather evidence.

Parties other than employers have a hand in whether a job site is safe. Product defects in machines and tools may be the responsibility of a manufacturer or servicer. Property owners and operators, obligated take reasonable steps to keep property in safe condition, may share the blame for accidents, including workers' injuries or deaths.

Workers' compensation insurance usually insulates employers from worker liability claims provided injured parties are classified as employees. Workers' compensation insurance doesn't cover employees classified as independent contractors. New Jersey law states independent contractors may file legal claims for damages against negligent employers.

Attorneys examine evidence in injury and fatal workplace accidents to identify sources of fault. An investigation also may lead to compensation for injured workers or their families through lawsuits.

Source: New York Daily News, "Iron worker at Barclays Center crushed to death by steel beams: police" Kerry Burke and Joseph Stepansky, Feb. 25, 2015

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