New Jersey On-the-Job Injuries on the Rise

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has issued their report on the number of fatal work injuries in 2015, and it shows a 10 percent increase for the state of New Jersey. This study, which relies on a combination of state, federal, and independent data sources for verification and accuracy, reflects that the Garden State’s rate of increase in work fatalities is far greater than what has been experienced nationally, but that the number of workers killed on the job does not approach the worst year on record. In 2015, 97 New Jersey workers were killed on the job, compared to the all time high in 1993 of 145, and a low of 81 in 2010.

A close analysis of the deaths that are included in the study reveals where the greatest dangers lie for workers in the state:

  • There were 37 deaths attributed to transportation incidents. This category represents the highest number of fatal work injuries in the state.

  • There were 24 deaths attributed to falls, slips or trips on the job.

  • The third most prevalent cause of death on the job in New Jersey was violence and injuries cause by either people or animals. 18 people died on the job as a result of this type of injury or attack. This represents a more-than 50 percent increase from the previous year.

  • 11 people lost their lives at work as a result of contact with either objects or equipment.

Of all the industries in the state, it was the private construction industry which experienced the highest number of deaths in New Jersey. In that sector, 12 out of 22 deaths were a result of workers falling to a lower level. The transportation and warehousing sector experienced the second most on-the-job fatalities, with the trucking industry accounting for the majority of those losses.

A closer examination of the actual occupations that are most at risk for death on the job in the state of New Jersey found that the highest numbers were found in those working in the transportation and material moving occupations and the construction and extraction occupations.  Out of the 97 New Jersey workers killed on the job in 2015, 15 were motor vehicle operators, and 14 were construction trade workers.

The statistics in New Jersey closely followed those identified on the national stage. Transportation incidents accounted for nearly half of all workplace fatalities, with falls slips and trips coming in second, accounting for 17 percent and contact with objects and equipment a close third most prevalent with 15 percent of death.

The report also provided more in depth information about those who were most likely to be killed on the job, with men accounting for 98 percent of the on-the-job deaths in the state and 93 percent nationally. More than half of those deaths were of white, non-hispanics: this number is far lower than the national statistic, in which that demographic accounts for 67 percent of all work fatalities. Forty percent of those killed in work-related fatalities are 55 or older.

Notably, among all of the state’s on-the-job fatalities, 86 percent were among those who were employees, with 14 percent of the fatalities reported to be self-employed individuals. Among the self-employed, half of all the incidents were associated with either violence or attacks by people or animals.

The state of New Jersey offers death benefits to the dependents of workers who are killed on the job or who die because of a work-related injury or illness, with dependents including a spouse and natural children under the age of 18, as well as parents, stepparents, grandparents, stepchildren, siblings and half siblings and nieces and nephews who were part of the household at the time of death.  For couples who are married but separated, the remaining spouse may be considered a dependent based upon their level of independence. Compensation is based on the wage, with dependents receiving 70%.  The payments can continue for 450 weeks for a spouse, up until they either remarry or die, and dependent children can receive compensation up until their 18th birthday unless they are enrolled in school. Enrollment entitles them to benefits until they are 23.  Physically or mentally handicapped children are entitled to 450 weekly benefits.

The rules surrounding New Jersey workers’ compensation death benefits are complex. For more information, contact our office to set up a time when we can meet and discuss your specific situation.