The tri-state area was hit with the season’s first major winter storm with December’s unofficially named Winter Storm Gail. The Nor’easter dumped several inches of snow over South Jersey with some places in the northern part of the state receiving as much as a foot, ending the area’s snow drought.
Snow and ice are inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst for many people who need to go about their day despite the weather. Data shows that an increase in workplace injuries and workers compensation claims accompany snowstorms and cold snaps every year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were over 20,000 occupational injuries related to ice, sleet and snow in 2017. These injuries included slip and trip accidents, falls, exposure-related conditions and vehicle accidents.
Slips, trips and falls comprise the largest number of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that falls make up at least 20 percent of all claims. When there is snow and ice on the ground, slips and falls are a major concern. Those who work outdoors are at increased risk for cold-weather injuries.
Some tips to prevent winter workplace injuries:
- Have a plan in place and supplies ready before winter weather occurs. Shovels and ice melt should be accessible, and workers should be notified of conditions before coming to work so they can use extra caution.
- Proper winter footwear with adequate traction and foot protection should be worn into the workplace whenever possible and changed once inside if preferred.
- Anyone who will be working outside in freezing temperatures should always wear protective and warm clothing to prevent frostbite and cold exhaustion.
- Employees who must drive or operate a vehicle to complete their work duties are protected by workers compensation laws should they be injured or killed in an accident, even if they are off-site. Employers should keep employees off the road whenever possible if conditions are bad. Employees should stay aware of road conditions and practice careful driving should they need to go out.
If you or a loved one were injured at work because of winter weather, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys of Petrillo & Goldberg at 856.486.4343. You could be entitled to workers compensation benefits.