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New Jersey work-related health problems

Even the most seemingly benign workplace in Bergen County may put a worker in harm’s way. Whether someone lifts heavy loads or sits at a desk, for example, the spine is at risk for serious issues. The U.S. Department of Labor gathers the statistics for all workplace-related illnesses and injuries via an employer reporting system. By taking a look at the most recent numbers for New Jersey, researchers can analyze the safety of various industries, and develop improvements to prevent further harm.

In the private sector, illnesses only accounted for 4.4 percent of the recorded issues employees suffered, and 32 percent of the 3,100 cases involved breathing conditions, skin problems and hearing loss. Roughly 68,800 sustained injuries on the job. Including both categories, there were 40,900 workers who missed work for days, were restricted from performing their normal job duties or required a transfer to a new job. More than 31,000 suffered less severe issues that were significant enough to be reported, but did not lead to restriction or transfer, and the employees did not miss days of work.

Government employees are not exempt from the same hazards. The 22,000 workers affected in these jobs totaled 5.6 out of every 100, compared to 2.7 per 100 for the private industry, with local government employees sustaining the brunt of these.

These 72,000 New Jersey workers were not without recourse. According to the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance almost always covers the cost of medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. The employee has the responsibility to report the issue to the employer immediately, so that health care can be pursued.

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