The winter season has arrived in Pennsylvania and the nasty weather that it brings. Winter weather presents many hazards for workers including slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and low temperatures. The dangers are significantly more prevalent for those employees who work outdoors in the winter season. However, you don’t need to work outside to suffer a winter related workplace injury. Slip and falls can happen in numerous places including the parking lot or walkways coming into your building.
It may be tempting for workers to “work through it” or “gut it out” but lengthy exposure to wet, cold, and windy conditions, can be hazardous, even if the temperatures aren’t below freezing.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor there were 42,480 work injuries involving ice, sleet, or snow in the United States in 2014. Pennsylvania was the 2nd highest state in terms of those injuries with 2,390 (behind only New York).
Employers and employees should be aware of the dangers that winter weather poses. OSHA asks that employers provide its employees “with employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards.” Employers should inform their employees of common winter workplace dangers that will help them avoid injuries or fatalities while working during the winter season.
Common Winter Workplace Injuries
- Slips and falls
- Vehicle Accidents
- Strains and overexertion during snow removal
- Cardiovascular stress
- Falling ice, snow, or tree limbs
Tips to Prevent Winter Workplace Injuries
- Wear proper winter clothing for the conditions
- Wear proper footwear with good traction and insulation
- Use caution when driving in wintery conditions
- Use caution on steps or other surfaces that could be slippery
- Stretch before and use proper technique when shoveling and removing snow.
- Use proper safety equipment when operating snow blowers and plows
- Be aware of signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia