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Workers' injuries are prevalent during snow removal operations

Snow is a known safety hazard, and after the record snowfalls in the Northeast, safety authorities urged employers to take special care in protecting employees in New Jersey and surrounding states. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration asked everybody involved in cleanup and removal of snow to remain focused on safety and to take the necessary precautions to prevent workers' injuries. There are many known hazards linked to snow removal activities.

Falls may be the most frequently reported cause of injuries during these operations. Workers could slip and fall when moving about on ice and snow, and snow removal from elevated areas such as roofs or decks are hazardous. Workers can fall over the edge, through skylights or roof vents, or from ladders and mechanical lifts. Severe injuries can also be caused by collapsing roofs or other structures that cannot bear the weight of the snow.

Further hazards are posed by powered equipment such as snow blowers and moving vehicles. First responders who work long shifts in icy conditions may suffer cold stress or even hypothermia or frostbite. Initial symptoms typically include shivering, but when the situation worsens the shivering will stop, and the victim may experience slurred speech, confusion, slowing heart rate and could lose consciousness. When the worker's body is no longer able to create its own warmth, the consequences may be severe.

Victims of cold-related workers' injuries in New Jersey might be entitled to pursue financial help through the workers' compensation insurance system. The program typically provides benefits to cover medical expenses and lost income. However, it might be necessary to seek the support and guidance of an attorney who is experienced in the navigation of benefits claims, especially if the work-relatedness of the injury is questioned.

Source: ehstoday.com, "The Weather Outside Is Frightful (and Full of Hazards)!", Sandy Smith, Jan. 2, 2018

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