Since September, there have been at least four fatal work accidents in New Jersey. Two involved forklift accidents, which are one of the most common types of work accidents in the U.S. Another involved a stairway fall accident and the last one involved a crush accident. As per OSHA regulations, each of these fatal work accidents are under investigation. A final report can often take months.
Morris County, NJ Forklift Accident Claims Life of Worker (November 2016)
The most recent accident occurred last month at a commercial construction site in Pequannock, which is west of the Paterson, Paramus and Hackensack area. According to nj.com, a worker fell about 20-30 feet after the forks detached from a forklift. The worker, who had been standing on a pallet on the forks, fell to his death. It’s unclear what caused the forks to detach. A mechanical failure is suspected. Source: nj.com, Company in fatal forklift accident has history of safety violations.
According to nj.com, the employer in this recent case has previously been cited for work safety hazards by OSHA. In the past five years, the employer was cited at least two times for work related fall dangers. One citation was for a violation in 2014, but was later expunged. The other two citations were for violations which allegedly occurred in 2012 and more recently in 2015. In that case, which remains open and contested, the company is facing fines over $10,000 for a serious violation and two repeat violations.
OSHA citations for violations of work safety hazards are nothing new. Historically, OSHA fines simply have not had much of a deterrent effect. A mere $10,000 fine is hardly enough to make an employer take workplace safety seriously. However, that may change. Due to recent increases in the amount of fines, employers across the U.S. and in New Jersey may take work safety seriously. Effective August 2016, OSHA fines have been increased significantly. For instance, the maximum fine for a willful or repeat violation has been increased from $70,000 to about $125,000, about an 80% increase.
Other Fatal Work Accidents in New Jersey (September 2016)
In September, three New Jersey workers lost their lives in separate work accidents across the state. OSHA records reveal the following:
- On September 7, 2016, a worker at a food distribution company in Piscataway died after he was caught between a tractor and a trailer.
- On September 19, 2016, a worker from a Burlington, NJ company died in a forklift accident.
- On September 20, 2016, a worker from an industrial cleaning company in Egg Harbor Township died after he fell through stairs.
For more information, visit the PA & NJ Work Injury Law Library.