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Winter weather increases worker safety concerns

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for protecting worker safety and health in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. One of its primary duties is to identify potential causes of job-related injuries or illnesses and formulate procedures, equipment and training that must be used by employers to keep workers safe. But even if no specific OSHA standard has been established for a particular hazardous condition, there exists a general duty for all employers to protect their employees from recognized hazards that are present in the workplace.

Safety experts cite cold weather, snow, ice and wind as recognized hazards associated with winter weather that may place employees at risk. For instance, snow removal from roofs during winter consistently ranks as a leading cause of serious injury or death. However, no specific standard has been established by OSHA for this hazardous task.

Not every danger winter weather presents involves a technical understanding of issues such as snow removal. In fact, most are everyday topics involving common sense, but it is also important for an employer to have an understanding of its workforce. For example, if an employer has brought in workers to a winter environment from an area where winters are moderate, it should provide training and guidance on such considerations as proper winter weather clothing, the operation of equipment in sub-freezing conditions and driving on icy roads.

A workplace injury accident may or may not involve an OSHA violation. Either way, employees who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expenses, lost wages and even permanent disability if circumstances warrant such a conclusion. A workers’ compensation lawyer can ensure a claim is handled properly.