Work Injuries and Weather
Severe weather can be a risk factor for work-related injuries and employers have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace remains safe for their employees, despite the weather conditions. Falls are a major concern in winter weather. Slip and falls are far more common in winter months where snow and ice are likely to be a factor. Employers are responsible for keeping their premises free of hazards. This means clearing sidewalks and parking lots of snow and ice and provide adequate lighting.
Working in Cold Temperatures
Employees who must continue to work outside in winter conditions should have footwear with proper treading and warm and protective clothing. If their gear becomes wet, they should be given the opportunity to change into dry clothes. Workers should take breaks or modify their schedules to avoid prolonged exposure to the cold. In dangerous road conditions, they should not be required to drive.
Working in the Rain
Rainy weather can occur at any time of year and exacerbate existing hazards on an outdoor worksite. Slippery surfaces and reduced visibility require that workers move slowly and with extra caution. Good rain gear is necessary as is foot wear with proper treading. All outerwear should have high visibility markings that are reflective. If tools are being used, they should have non-slip grip handles and must be rated for outdoor use in the rain, especially any electrical tools.
Vision is also a concern during rainy conditions. Workers who wear glasses or goggles should treat their lenses with anti-fog spray and wear a hood or hat to keep water away from their eyes. If work is being carried out at night, employers must provide adequate lighting with equipment rated for outdoor use.
The weather can also contribute to heat-related work injuries. Heat can cause rashes, cramping, exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Heat also contributes to other types of injuries by causing tools to slip from sweaty palms, dizziness which can induce falls, and fogging of safety goggles from sweat and steam.
When hot weather arrives unexpectedly, workers unaccustomed to high temperatures may succumb quickly to its affects. It is important to alter work schedules to accommodate frequent water breaks in shade and cooler temperatures. The use of shorter shifts or additional workers can be considered to reduce the burden during periods of extreme heat. Dress codes can also be altered to accommodate weather conditions. Indoor areas should be properly ventilated. Employees who must work in hot temperatures should receive training about the dangers of occupational heat exposure and how to recognize the signs of heat illness.
Many workplace injuries are preventable, including those related to weather. When weather conditions increase the risk of injury, employers must react and take measures to continue to provide a safe work environment.
New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Represent Injured Workers in New Jersey
If you have experienced a work-related injury, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Contact an experienced New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr to find out about your legal options. For an initial consultation, call 732-537-8570 today to schedule an appointment. You can also contact us online. From our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the state.