Extreme temperatures and slippery surfaces present hazards to workers across the country. In addition to following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, employers should take precautions during severe weather to prevent workers from suffering injuries. Employers can take several steps to protect the health of their workers and provide them with safe environments during severe weather.
Rainy weather presents several hazards, including slippery surfaces and decreased visibility. Workers are encouraged to move slowly and carefully, especially when climbing ladders. They should also be sure to use the appropriate equipment such as textured-nonslip tools, deep tread footwear, and well-ventilated clothing. To ensure adequate vision, workers should use anti-fog spray on their eyewear and wear high-visibility clothing, especially when operating heavy machinery or working in areas with high traffic.
Employers should ensure that their workplace has adequate ventilation. Employees should be given water breaks and the option of spending time in a cool or shaded area provided by their employers. Employers may also consider allowing employees to work shorter shifts to allow them to build a level of tolerance, or temporarily changing the dress code to prevent employees from developing heat-related injuries such as heat-stroke, which can be life-threatening. Employers should not only be aware of how to prevent occupational heat exposure, but also what to do in case of an emergency. OSHA suggests including prevention and emergency response steps in worksite training and plans.
Cold and Winter Weather
Cold, wintery weather can pose hazards to workers who are exposed to the harsh elements. During the winter months, employees are at risk of developing cold-weather conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia. Workers may develop frostbite if they are exposed to the elements over an extended period. If workers do not protect themselves with appropriate clothing, this condition can cause body tissue to freeze due to decreased blood flow and heat to the extremities.
Hypothermia may develop when a worker’s core body temperature drops below 95°F. This condition may even lead to fatal injuries if the temperature drop causes heart and respiratory failure. Workers may prevent frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold-weather conditions by protecting their ears, faces, hands, and feet by wearing several layers of loose clothing.
Winter weather also presents unique dangers in terms of slip and fall injuries. Workers may slip and fall on icy surfaces. Employers should therefore ensure that snow and ice is cleared from all walking surfaces and that deicer is spread as soon as possible after heavy snowfall. All areas should also be well-lit, and employers should use signs to notify workers of any hazards. Finally, if the weather is too severe, employee schedules may need to be modified so that they are not traveling when it is too cold or when road-conditions are too dangerous.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Employees Injured Due to Negligent Employers
Employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplaces. If you suffered a workplace injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. to discuss your case. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 803-929-3600.
We represent clients throughout South Carolina, including in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumtner County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangebury County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.