The number of workers killed while on the job in New Jersey and around the country increased by a worrying 7 percent in 2016, according to figures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The federal agency reports that workplace accidents claimed 5,190 lives in 2016, which is the highest occupational death toll since 5,214 workers were killed in 2008. Many of these deaths occurred in growing and lightly regulated sectors like food service and health care. Accidents and injuries remained steady or actually fell in industries that are closely scrutinized by federal safety agencies like OSHA.
More and more people in their 60s and 70s are putting off retirement, leading to a multigenerational work environment in many areas. Companies in New Jersey, especially those in construction and other fields involving physical labor, now face the challenge of providing safety training that speaks to people of all age ranges.
An engineer at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which has been researching protective helmets since the 1970s, stated in 2014 that construction workers should have the best designed headgear. New Jersey construction workers may be able to use safety helmets created by construction companies to specifically to give workers better protection from injuries and fatalities related to falling. From 2003 to 2010, there were 2,210 traumatic brain injuries in the construction industry that resulted in death, which correlated to a rate of 2.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Workers 65 years of age or older had the highest rates of TBI rates of all workers, with falls being the primary cause.
Many New Jersey residents know the role that the Los Alamos National Laboratory had in the development of nuclear weapons, and they may be surprised to learn that the Department of Energy facility has been accused of handling radioactive waste and plutonium carelessly. According to the Center for Public Integrity, little has been done since worries over safety prompted officials to suspend work at the laboratory in 2013.
New Jersey residents may not know that workers in the poultry processing sector are more likely to suffer severe work-related injuries than workers at saw mills, automobile manufacturing plants and steel mills. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers an injury serious when an amputation, the loss of an eye or hospitalization are involved, and poultry processing workers suffer a disproportionately high number of them.
Although the health risks associated with lead have been well-known and documented, New Jersey workers in certain occupations are still at a high risk for lead exposure. They should be aware of the unique health hazards posed by lead and how to prevent and deal with the issue.
Chemicals may pose several safety hazards to New Jersey workers in industrial plants. Both chemical burns as well as inhalation of chemical fumes are common causes for injuries in chemical plants. Workers may also suffer injuries related to slipping or falling or overexerting themselves. However, there are ways that employers may reduce the odds that a worker suffers an injury that could be costly to the company.
Workplace accidents around the country claimed 4,836 lives in 2015 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a further 3 million workers suffered a nonfatal injury or became sick. The U.S. Department of Labor helps to promote workplace safety by developing regulations and enforcing federal laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and a senior DOL figure said that stricter enforcement would be one of the highest priorities of the solicitor's office in 2017. The comments were made at a March 8 meeting of the American Bar Association in which attorneys from New Jersey were in attendance.
Workers' compensation benefits are available for people who have suffered a wide range of injures at work. The types of injuries that come to most people's minds are broken bones or repetitive stress injuries, for example.
Post-election policy watchers expect workers' compensation and related policy changes in the near future. Workers' compensation coverage is required of most New Jersey companies. In the event of an occupational disease or a workplace injury accident, eligible employees are entitled to file a claim for benefits that could include the payment of medical expenses as well as partial wage replacement.