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Are home elevation companies putting New Jersey workers at risk?


After Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey, a number of homeowners have decided to structurally elevate their homes. Even though companies that elevate homes have been doing well in the Garden State, safety advocates are concerned that worker safety is being compromised on these home elevation projects.

Recently, in Little Egg Harbor, a shore town far south of Newark, a woman watched helplessly as a neighbor's house that was being elevated collapsed. Three workers were injured and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently investigating the accident. This incident is not an isolated case either; there have been other structural elevation accidents in New Jersey. As the demand for this service increases, so do the risks.

Since New Jersey has no laws to mandate home lifters, the state does not currently have many options when it comes to safety regulations for the nearly 100 contractors performing the service. So, safety advocates have been knocking on Trenton's door to develop safety standards in order to protect workers and prevent property damage. A state senator has already sponsored a bill centered on making home lifting safer, but the legislation has yet to be approved.

Workers need to know that their employer is legally bound to ensure their safety. Whether someone works in an up-and-coming industry like home lifting, or in any other field, they should be protected from any risks the job presents. If a Newark worker is injured on the job, that person is usually entitled to workers' compensation. Such a claim enables an injured worker to receive benefits that can compensate for medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: The Daily Journal, "NJ Has No Rules for Firms That Elevate Homes," Jean Mikle, Nov. 24, 2013

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