As workers’ compensation attorneys, we see plenty of causes of workplace injury and illness. Falls, run-ins with machinery, and carpal tunnel syndrome are some common injuries we see in our workers’ comp clients. However, in the winter, we see some unique worker injuries related to the cold and snow. We are dedicated to helping any injured worker collect the worker’s comp to which he or she is entitled, however, we would prefer to see that workers are safe from the workplace hazards that bring them to us. That is why we are happy to provide information on the hazards workers face in the winter and how to prevent injury and illness.
The Unique Hazards of Winter
A major hazard outdoor workers face in winter is the cold temperatures, which put them at risk for cold stress injuries. However, there are other weather-related hazards workers must contend with. Among them are the following:
Plenty of people make a living behind the wheel and icy and snowy conditions make their jobs dangerous in winter. Employers should make sure work vehicles are properly maintained and fit for driving in the snow. Tires, windshield wipers, and heating systems are of particular importance for winter driving. Vehicles should be stocked with emergency supplies such as traction aids, ice scrapers, blankets, and water. Taking these measures will help protect delivery drivers, maintenance crews, emergency responders, and anyone else who drives as part of their job.
Road crews, power company employees, and cable technicians are among the workers who must do road-side work in the winter. As crash-avoidance measures become more difficult for drivers on snow and ice, these workers are at a greater threat of being injured or killed. Employers should supply them with signs, cones, barrels, and barriers as well as highly visible clothing and lighting to protect them as they work by the road.
When employees are asked to shovel snow around the workplace, precautions must be taken to ensure their safety. Shoveling snow is a strenuous activity and workers should be permitted to work slowly, take frequent breaks, and work with equipment designed to make the task easier. Back injuries, cold stress, exhaustion, and heart attacks can all result from snow shoveling. When employees use power equipment to remove snow, they should be properly trained and the snow blower should be well-maintained. Improper use of the machine could result in serious injury to the operator, including lacerations and amputations. Finally, workers removing snow from a rooftop or other high surface should be provided with aerial lifts, personal fall arrest systems, and non-slip boots and should be appropriately trained for the task.
Downed Power Lines
Snow and ice can weigh down power lines and cause them to sag or break. Only workers who are trained to work with downed power lines should respond to these situations. Whenever possible, the lines should be de-energized before work begins, but when this is not possible, a thorough safety inspection of the area should be done before repair attempts are made. Workers should be provided with personal protective equipment and appropriate tools. Non-electrical workers who must work near downed power lines to clear trees, treat the injured, or keep others away from danger must be trained to assume that all downed power lines are live and to stay away from them.
All too often, managers and supervisors are safely tucked away in warm buildings as their employees face these outdoor hazards. Workers should be aware that if they are injured while performing the duties of their job, even if they are not on property owned by the employer, they are entitled to receive worker’s compensation for their injuries.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.