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How safe are you on the job when you work outside New Jersey?

Many Bergen County employees cross the state line to go to work every day. That transition means workers who get hurt on the job are covered by different laws than the ones in effect in New Jersey. Public Citizen recently published a report calling for changes to workers' compensation rules to strengthen protection for private sector workers in New York.

The report pointed out state workers were at risk, because few private New York employers were required to draw up and use workplace safety plans. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration can fine employers for safety violations, but federal regulators have a difficult time making good on threats. The report stated OSHA is underfunded and understaffed.

OSHA's 2012 budget allotted $4 for every American employee. With a New York staff of just 115, it was impossible for the agency to inspect more than 5,511 of state's 592,148 workplaces that year. Meanwhile, private sector occupational injuries cost the state billions of dollars.

From 2010 to 2012, the New York State economy lost $10.9 billion due to worker injuries. The Public Citizen report suggested that the only way to safeguard employees and stem financial losses was to upgrade safety laws. The report called for making the implementation of safety programs mandatory for private employers statewide.

More than 245,000 New York employees suffered serious on-the-job injuries or illnesses between 2010 and 2012. In 2012 alone, there were 79,500 serious job injuries – 83 percent among service workers. The temporary or permanent loss of workdays hurt the companies and the victims.

Employer workers' compensation insurance takes care of injured employees' medical expenses and wage losses. Unfortunately, that's the safety net -- not the solution -- for preventing workplace accidents or illnesses. An attorney can assist injured New Jersey workers with claims for benefits and all other possible compensation through third-party lawsuits for damages caused by negligence.

Source: EHSToday, "Workplace Injuries in New York Cost the Economy $10.9 Billion in Three Years" Sandy Smith, May. 06, 2014

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