Are workers staying safe outdoors during winter?

| Dec 19, 2019 | Workers' Compensation |

Work must go on, regardless of the weather. This means many outdoor employees find themselves exposed to the extreme weather, even as others bundle themselves up and try working from home. The winter season means people are shoveling snow from pathways, clearing snow from roofs, using powered equipment as it snows, repairing downed electricity lines and removing downed trees.

Some employees, like post office or delivery workers, find their work increases during the holiday season, in the peak of cold weather. As a result, all these workers become susceptible to all types of safety hazards, such as hypothermia, dangerous driving conditions and frostbite.

Driving is an essential part of many workers’ jobs, and driving through winter conditions can put their lives at risk. While employers cannot control the condition of the road, employers can ensure their employees recognize and utilize safe driving procedures and have the required training to drive in snowy or icy conditions. Vehicles must also be inspected to ensure they are being maintained regularly and should contain an emergency kit in case it gets stranded. Winter driving conditions also mean drivers skid and lose control of their vehicles. Work zone safety should be ensured by properly setting up the work zone. Barrels, barriers and cones should all be put up to protect workers, who should be wearing high visibility vests all the time.

Shoveling snow must be done, but it also can take a toll on the body, as workers can become dehydrated, exhausted or suffer back injuries. Employees should be told to take frequent breaks in warm areas and to scoop small amounts of snow at a time. Powered equipment needs to be grounded properly, so workers are protected from electrocutions.

Employers need to ensure that their work environment is safe. When they don’t, worker injuries may result. An injured worker may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover costs associated with their injury, such as medical expenses and lost wages.