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HOW SAFE ARE NEW JERSEY’S CONSTRUCTION SITES?

After the disastrous crane collapse in New York City last week, many people started looking askance at construction sites and wondering if another, similar incident is just around the corner. The overwhelming majority (60%) of this week’s poll respondents, however, have judged New Jersey’s construction sites very safe. The remaining 40% are split evenly between viewing the sites as acceptably safe or areas to be avoided. Sam Champi, a vice-president with River Drive Construction Co. in Elmwood Park, is in the minority. He thinks that a lot more needs to be done to ensure that construction sites in New Jersey are safe places to work in and near. Here are his thoughts:

“The construction sites are not very safe. Due to the competitive nature of our business, it’s very difficult to keep a safety consultant on staff or to use an outside safety vendor. It becomes cost prohibitive. Therefore, general contractors are unlikely to use those services unless there’s a requirement through the bid documentation or through the owner of the building. So, when there is a safety requirement that has to be followed, it is followed, but I don’t think it’s followed very well.

“The crane collapse was an extreme situation, but I see a lot of circumstances where people receive electrical shocks or fall off a scaffold. Those types of injuries are important, but they aren’t equal to disasters like the crane incident.

“River Drive uses an outside vendor to monitor its safety program. When we have a job we ask this safety vendor to come out and inspect the site once a month and provide us with a written report of safety and OSHA concerns. I don’t think many people do that, but it’s something that should be done because it limits the potential for accidents and for OSHA violations.”

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