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Your Workplace Needs to Winter-Proof Now

January 11, 2018

Winter proof workplace workers' compensation

Icy conditions, snow-packed roads, freezing temperatures: it’s that time of the year again! Although the Carolinas may not experience as much of an impact as other areas in the country, we still get a winter, especially the further inland you go. And because we, like most others, face wintery conditions, we’re no stranger to increases in workers’ compensation claims due to slips, falls, and other injuries that the winter season can cause. Now is the time for employers to do everything they can to eliminate hazards and generate winter safety awareness among employees.

General Slips and Falls

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 34,860 workplace slip and fall injuries involving ice, sleet and snow in 2014. These injuries also resulted in employees taking at least one day away from work to recover. They also reported there were thousands of minor slip and fall injuries that did not result in lost work time. One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of incidents is to coat sidewalks immediately before and after a storm. It’s also a good idea to remind employees to take their time and walk slowly to and from their vehicles to allow themselves to react quickly to any changes in traction. And when snow is tracked indoors into the entrances of businesses, it’s important to place a wet floor sign to slow people down, or invest in floor mats to catch excess water.

Road Accidents

It’s true that motorists cannot control the conditions of the road, but they can uphold good driving behavior. This is especially true for those whose job involves travel, whether by car or commercial vehicle. Being trained for hazardous weather conditions can save many workers from being stranded in the middle of a snow storm. A good process is to confirm each company vehicle is in working order (checking brakes, engine, electrical system, tires, etc.) before employees start their routes. It’s also a good idea to encourage drivers to travel slowly and allow plenty of time and space to brake. The more trained and prepared employee drivers are,the smaller the chance they’ll get into an accident or damage property.

Outdoor Professions

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the work stops for some industries. Working outside in freezing temperatures requires the body to work extra hard to stay warm, meaning fatigue occurs more often in outdoor workers. It’s critical that all employees dress in multiple layers to prevent frostbite and hypothermia, while also having the option to remove layers to cool down. Workers should also wear slip-resistant footwear to maintain balance and safety. If certain businesses require employees to work near highways or well-traveled roads, being aware of out-of-control drivers is a must.

At Prior, Criner & Edwards Attorneys, we know slip and fall injuries are literally a pain in the butt. If you’ve been injured on the job due to winter conditions and need legal consultation about your claim, we’re here to help.