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Construction sites: the top five safety hazards

Construction workers in New Jersey should be familiar with the top safety hazards in their industry. Though construction workers make up 6 percent of the U.S. population, construction injuries account for 20 percent of all injuries among private sector employees. The following are the top five causes of construction site accidents.

Falls are to blame for over one third of all construction fatalities. Common factors in falls include unstable work surfaces, failure to wear fall protection equipment and the use of scaffolding and ladders that do not meet safety standards. These are all preventable factors. Employers will also need fall prevention equipment like safety nets and guardrails.

Approximately 10 percent of construction deaths are due to struck-by objects, including forklifts and cranes. The risk can be mitigated with clear vehicle routes and proper training. Electrical hazards are the third leading cause. Employees should be trained to identify all utilities before starting any work and to always take into account minimum safe distance requirements.

Caught-in-between incidents can occur when construction site trenches collapse, so for trenches 5 feet or deeper, employers should have proper trench wall support and other safety measures. Lastly, many workers die from airborne toxins, chemical spills and other hazardous materials. Such materials should be kept track of in material safety data sheets, and workers should be provided with respiratory protection.

Employees who incur a construction site injury are eligible for compensation thanks to the workers' compensation program. All they have to do is report the incident to their employer and make their intention to file a claim known. Claims can be denied, however, so workers may want legal representation for the process. A lawyer may assist with the appeal. Victims might also discuss whether opting for a lump-sum settlement would be in their best interest.

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