Winter conditions are right around the corner, which always raises caution. This is especially true for those who are now returning to the workplace as COVID-19 regulations begin to lift. Employers everywhere must protect their employees by providing a safe work environment; failing to do so during the winter season will likely lead to accidents and Workers’ Compensation claims.
Whether you work in an office or in the food industry, the most common winter worksite hazards to watch out for include the following.
Slip and Fall Accidents
The threat of suffering a slip and fall is in every workplace, regardless of the season. In fact, slip and fall accidents account for at least one-third of all workplace injuries. There are many different types of injuries that result from a fall. Depending on severity, a fall can cause broken or fractured bones, lacerations, sprains, head, or back injuries. They can also lead to severe or permanent disabilities or even death. Just a few years ago, the National Safety Council found that over 20 percent of falls or slips are fatal.
The hazardous conditions that come with winter increases the chances of falling or slipping. Unpaved or unsalted walkways make walking quite dangerous when trying to get from your car to your work. If you work outside, cold temperatures alone make ladders difficult to climb. Some other winter conditions that can cause a fall at work include:
- Icy handrails
- Poor lighting in parking lots or gathering areas
- Potholes or large cracks in walkways caused by ice
- Wet surfaces by entrances, high-traffic areas, or stairwells
Employers should encourage workers to wear footwear that has the traction and insulation suitable for winter conditions. They should also clear ice and snow on the property where applicable, and dry high-traffic areas after a snow or rain.
Winter Driving Conditions
The National Weather Service have found that weather-related car accidents cause over 6,000 fatalities and almost 500,000 injuries per year. Not only do winter conditions threaten our daily commute, but also they are especially hazardous to workers who drive for their jobs, such as delivery drivers. Even if driving as carefully as possible, ice and snow can cause a driver to lose control.
Snow and ice can limit visibility. Combined with longer nights and shorter days, low light and low visibility play a major role in workplace injury. Those who work outdoors not only must protect themselves from the cold temperatures, but also must make themselves visible to others as much as possible. Reflective equipment is mandatory if working outdoors during the winter.
Another issue that outdoor workers must face is frostbite and hypothermia. Workers should be wearing proper equipment when the temperature drops, including face masks, gloves, and thermal wear. Taking breaks regularly to warm up is also good for maintaining your internal body temperature, as well as drinking plenty of fluids.
Flu, COVID-19, and Other Illnesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught a lot of employers the importance of keeping their employees safe and healthy. When the outside temperature drops, our immune systems lower, as well as keep many bodies indoors to keep warm. This has always been the recipe for colds or other sicknesses to spread. And just as it is with other illnesses such as the flu, when an outbreak hits the workplace, many deadlines are missed, operations are interrupted, and productivity suffers.
Employers must help their own workers by allowing them the necessary time to recover, as returning to work too early is an issue as well and may make it worse for others. If you do feel sick, stay home and take the time to rest.
West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Help Protect the Rights of Injured Employees
Employers are legally required to provide a safe work environment. Failing to do so could result in injury, and Workers’ Compensation claims can be difficult and stressful. If you have been injured at work, reach out to the West Chester Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC for help. Our dedicated team has years of experience, and we will fight to get the compensation for which you are entitled. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, where we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.