Based on inspections of public-sector workplaces conducted across the state, the New Jersey Department of Labor has released a list of the top hazards reported in 2021.

The list is compiled annually by NJDOL's Office of Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health, and is meant to raise awareness of the most common risks leading into the new year.

"Consider it a wake-up call for the industries we regulate," said Howard Black, NJDOL assistant commissioner for the division of public safety and occupational safety and health. "They can look at this and see whether or not it's something they need to address."

Public- and private-sector employers can request an on-site consultation from PSEOH, in order to get ahead of potential dangers for workers.

"We don't issue orders to comply based on those findings — we issue a report, and the employer has to agree to fix whatever we find," Black said.

NJDOL's top 10 safety and health hazards in public-sector workplaces (2021)

Firefighter protection gear, helmet, gloves on the bumper of the fire truck
Matt277
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10. Hazards to firefighter – noncompliance with a New Jersey Administrative Code  for firefighters that covers regulations involving turnout gear, apparatus, fire department organizational structure, duties and special services performed, training, self-contained breathing apparatus, and safety protocols.

ClaireMcAdams
ClaireMcAdams
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9. Issues in confined spaces – lack of permit or improper mitigation of hazards in confined spaces that may create an unsafe work area; confined spaces built in such a way that someone entering could be asphyxiated or trapped.

Red fire extinguisher and flames, close-up view
artisteer
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8. Insufficient fire prevention efforts – flammable or combustible materials stored improperly; no plan for preventing unintentional ignition.

VvoeVale
VvoeVale
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7. Lack of communications regarding hazardous substances – insufficient communication regarding on-site toxic or hazardous materials and their use; lack of instruction for users on how to handle materials or what protection to wear; no instructions on what to do if an accidental exposure occurs.

Forklift truck on white isolated background. 3d
Bet_Noire
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6. Improper storage – materials stacked in an unstable manner or stored improperly; moving materials without applicable training.

Signs warning slip on road in the city.
Nuttaya99
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5. Walking hazards – open holes in floor or ground; no guardrails on elevated platforms; no railings on storms; tripping and slipping hazards.

Man cutting control groove in concrete slab
tinabelle
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4. No machine guards – machinery points of operation or moving parts not covered to prevent injury.

sakkmesterke
sakkmesterke
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3. Hazardous energy not controlled – power not disengaged or locked out before servicing starts on heavy machinery; stored energy not released from machine before performing maintenance, such as air being released from an air compressor.

Strong Electric Connection
James Thew
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2. Electrical issues – risks of electrical shock, electrocution, or electrical fires; overloaded circuits or power cords; electrical exposures in wet or damp locations; exposed electrical conductors and ungrounded electrical connections or equipment.

Henry Mandel/ Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley
Henry Mandel/ Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley
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1. Lack of exit routes or emergency plans – no emergency evacuation plan or means of accounting for evacuated employees in an emergency; exits blocked or not clearly marked.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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