OSHA fines New Jersey worksite for fall hazards
Every job involves some risk of injuries. However, people who have to work on ladders, scaffolds, roofs or other elevated surfaces have a particularly high risk of being injured or killed in a fall. In 2011 alone, 259 construction workers in the United States were killed after falling on the job.
Because of these risks, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration imposes strict regulations that employers must follow in order to prevent workplace falls. Companies that don’t follow these regulations can face fines and other penalties.
These fines can be quite substantial. In June 2013, a Bergen County concrete company was fined more than $90,000 after OSHA investigators discovered at least nine major safety violations, including several that subjected workers to falling risks. The violations included jerry-rigging scaffolding with makeshift devices. OSHA found that the violations created a “substantial probability” of workplace injuries or deaths.
OSHA safety guidelines
OSHA provides comprehensive online materials and resources that employers can use to help implement fall prevention strategies in the workplace. OSHA suggests a three-pronged strategy using the keywords “plan,” “provide” and “train.”
First, OHSA recommends that employers plan ahead to ensure that all necessary safety equipment is available and in good working condition before the project starts. Employers should identify potential safety hazards as part of the project plan and should factor in the cost of safety equipment as part of the project estimate.
Next, employers need to make sure each employee has access to the right kind of equipment. This means, for example, having ladders that are the correct height for the job being performed and outfitting workers with properly-fitting fall arrest systems. All equipment should be inspected regularly to make sure it is still in safe condition.
Finally, workers should be trained on how to set up their equipment and use it safely. Workers should also be trained on how to recognize fall hazards and prevent injuries.
New Jersey workers’ compensation
Safety in the workplace should be a priority for all employers. However, workers’ compensation in New Jersey is a no-fault system. This means that you do not have to prove that your employers violated safety rules in order to receive benefits. Workers can recover benefits even if their own negligence played a role in causing the accident.
Workers’ compensation is available to almost every worker in New Jersey. People who are injured in a fall – or any other workplace accident – are entitled to three types of benefits when injured on the job. Insurance companies are required to pay for reasonable medical care related to a workplace injury and will provide wage replacement benefits for workers whose doctor puts them out of work because of the injuries they sustained on the job. In addition, workers are eligible for disability award benefits at the conclusion of their treatment.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, it is important to take steps to protect your right to adequate benefits. Talk to a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney who can review your case and help you understand your options.