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Proactive measures required for construction site safety

Construction workers in New Jersey should know what dangers they face on the job site and how they can be mitigated. The Center for Construction Research and Training, among other organizations, has found that construction site safety is lacking in key areas with many workers dying after getting caught in machinery or being struck by vehicles and falling objects.

The CPWR reported that between 2011 and 2015, there were more than 800 fatal struck-by accidents. Caught-between accidents also rose 33 percent in that five-year period, the most vulnerable being ironworkers, older workers and workers under 20. Though OSHA has developed a rule requiring employers to electronically report all employee injuries and illnesses, it awaits an amendment that will waive the requirement to send sensitive employee information.

In the meantime, there's a way that companies can improve safety. The Associated Builders and Contractors has created a Safety Performance Evaluation Process program that it claims can make companies up to 670 percent safer than the industry average. The STEP program emphasizes proactive measures like substance abuse programs and site-specific safety orientation programs for new and current employees.

The ABC also encourages employee engagement and C-Suite engagement. Employers can set up toolbox talks and near-hit or near-miss analyses with their workers and establish a site safety committee. The STEP program offers 20 components to help employers customize their approach.

Injured workers can see if they're eligible for workers compensation benefits. To qualify, workers need not show that anyone was negligent; they simply need to prove that the accident took place during work. For example, an accident may take place off the construction site but while the worker is still on duty. The process can be somewhat complicated, which is why having a lawyer may be helpful. A lawyer may also be able to help mount an appeal if a claim is denied.

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