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NJDOL offers free safety, health evaluations for employers

The New Jersey Department of Labor is giving privately owned businesses throughout the state the chance to undergo a free evaluation through its Occupational Safety and Health On-Site Consultation Program. There are nearly 275,000 such businesses in New Jersey that can take advantage of this so that their job site is clear of any safety or health hazards.

The evaluation does not result in fines or citations. In fact, employers are able to set limits on the extent of the evaluation. It can cover things like the presence of physical dangers, things harmful to the air quality and noise levels. Employers can also request safety training courses from the DOL.

Participating in this consultation program can make one eligible for the Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Award as well as for recognition in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program. SHARP usually recognizes those small businesses that have gone through OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program. SHARP certification can lead to an exemption from OSHA inspections for up to two years.

The benefits of a safety evaluation are obvious. Employers can prevent serious injuries and all that they entail, including loss of productivity and costs relating to workers' compensation claims.

Employees who are injured, though, do not need any evidence of negligence on the employer's part (or anyone else's) to be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Once they reach maximum medical improvement, they can file a claim. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury.

Employers do have the right to deny payment, which is one reason why victims may want to hire legal counsel before filing a claim. A lawyer may be especially helpful in mounting an appeal. He or she may also explain when plaintiffs can seek a Section 20 or 22 settlement.

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