Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

Helpful safety tips for working outside this winter

We are now in the heart of winter with short daylight hours and sub-freezing temperatures as well as freezing rain and snow. This is not big news to people here in Pennsylvania who drive to and from work on our dark slippery roads. However, the winter months also present serious challenges for workplace safety to those working outside or even just parking in a lot and coming in to work.

Many who are native to the area or previously lived in cold weather climates have a certain amount of intuitive knowledge about staying warm, but others may not or perhaps have simply never worked outside in the cold before. According to the CDC's website, injuries come in the form of hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot or chilblains (a painful itching or swelling of skin). Moreover, it is a fact that physical labor takes a greater toll on the body in cold weather conditions, so employers and workers should plan accordingly.

Unfortunately, slipping and falling on ice and snow is also all too common.  Workers can suffer serious injuries to their feet, ankles, knees, hips, and backs, and even head injuries and concussions, during winter weather.

9 tips for staying warm at work

While some will see these tips as common sense, they may be new to others.  Although it does not always occur, employers should:

  1. Schedule outdoor maintenance and repairs for the warmest part of the day when possible
  2. Add extra staff to long and physically demanding jobs
  3. Make sure there is a warm break area and provide warm liquids
  4. Plan more breaks to ensure that the body stays warm
  5. Monitor workers and co-workers at risk for cold stress
  6. Provide preventative training to avoid cost related illness and injury
  7. Make sure workers dress for the conditions and encourage them to bring extra clothing
  8. Have a cold weather first aid kit on hand that includes a thermometer and chemical hot packs
  9. Monitor the weather forecast and delay work if the conditions are dangerous

Falls in work parking lots are generally compensable

Many people know that the coming-and-going rule in Pennsylvania provides that workers' compensation does not cover injuries suffered on your way into or on your way home from work.  But the law can be tricky - injuries suffered once you have come on to your employer's property are generally covered by workers' comp even if you have not yet clocked in or even after you have clocked out.

The injured should seek help

A vast majority of instances involving frostbite and other cold-related discomfort will soon be remedied by going inside. However, serious cases require medical attention. People who suffer slip and fall injuries should always seek medical attention.  It is also smart to contact an expert workers' comp attorney who can work with employees who have minor strains and sprains or more serious and ongoing conditions.

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