The seasons are shifting in New Jersey, and for now, the state is buzzing with autumn activities and pumpkin spice. But anyone familiar with the New Jersey fall knows that there are colder temperatures not far behind and so are the hazards of certain workplace injuries. What is now sweater weather and scary movies will soon turn to frosty mornings and cold temperatures.
In most parts of your life, it is wholly acceptable to ignore the approaching winter and cold weather, but not when it comes to preparation and planning for workplace injuries. There are entirely new hazards and concerns for the winter months, and the time to address these workplace risks is right now.
Whether you are an employee or employer this is the best time to start preparing for cold weather workplace injuries in New Jersey. Here are five of the common cold weather injuries and accidents you can take steps to avoid.
#1: Slips, Trips and Falls Increase Drastically
One common sign that winter is coming to the workplace is a gigantic leap in the number of slip and fall accidents that are reported to workers’ compensation insurance during the winter months. The cause of many slip and fall workplace injuries is probably obvious – frost, ice, and inclement weather – but these hazards are still overlooked by too many employers.
First, many employers put off their winter weather procedures, such as buying salt and bringing shovels out of storage, until the initial winter weather hits their area. Even as the forecast calls for icy streets and morning frost, employers aren’t proactive in preventing the potential workplace injuries. Second, other employers never worry about their employees’ paths to the office. Some parking lots, driveways, and other routes go untreated all winter long, which is a major risk to employees as they start and end their day.
Another reason slip and fall accidents increase during colder weather is there are more dangers in outdoor workplaces. Employees may need to wear gloves, heavy-duty footwear, and warm coats to keep out the cold, but these same measures increase the likelihood of losing balance and falling on slick surfaces.
#2: Exposure and Frostbite When Working Outdoors
In New Jersey, many construction projects and roadwork tries to wrap up before November hits because the colder months bring a massive increase in weather-related workplace injuries. New Jersey employees that need to complete tasks outside, such as construction projects, welding work, and moving building materials, are more likely to suffer from exposure to cold temperatures, frostbite, and other winter hazards.
One way employees can help prevent workplace injuries from exposure or the cold is providing needed and necessary clothing and protective equipment. Functional gloves, footwear, and outerwear can go a long way to keeping employees safe and workers’ compensation claims down.
#3: Road Conditions and Workplace Vehicle Accidents
Just as sidewalks and parking lots cause huge problems for employees on foot, employers need to be cognizant of workplace injuries that can happen out on the road. A huge number of New Jersey employees, from in-home caregivers to sales representatives, drive every day for their jobs.
When this travel is required to complete their job responsibilities, workers’ compensation covers any accidents or injuries that may occur. That includes medical costs, lost wages, and disability related to a car or truck accident during the workday. Even if the accident takes place on the way to a meeting or to pick up supplies for a company party, an injured employee is entitled to workers’ compensation.
Therefore, finding ways to inform employees of slick roads, morning frost, and black ice is imperative. Some companies have even invested in defensive driving training and specialized courses for their employees that drive consistently through the autumn and winter months. Eliminating distractions in work vehicles and making hands-free technology accessible for directions are other ways an employer can decrease the number of workplace injuries out on the road.
#4: Electric Shock, Burns, and Workplace Fires
Even as the temperature goes down, the number of injuries due to heat goes up. Autumn marks the start of an increase in injuries from electrocution through power lines and building maintenance. These workplace injuries are most common in the professions responsible for repairing downed lines and short circuits but can impact nearly any workplace, including offices, warehouses, and manufacturing spaces.
Just as frequent is electric shock due to power surges and other issues on the power grid. Burns and lacerations are also concerns for employees and employers that work with heavy equipment and machinery because the power supply isn’t as consistent or stable during colder months.
Training and sharing information is the best way to prevent these workplace injuries. Only a trained professional should try to handle a live power line or electrical work and the same is true for operating equipment and machinery. As well, companies should be distributing information on how to handle an electrical or power issue and who to contact in the event of a short circuit or power surge.
Discussing Your Cold Weather Workplace Injuries
If your place of employment or chosen profession has more hazards during the colder months, now is the time to start taking precautions. Begin to implement appropriate mitigations and safety procedures and talk to your employer about any major concerns or unaddressed hazards.
If you do suffer a cold weather injury and want to discuss your rights to New Jersey workers’ compensation, you can call the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone for a free initial consultation. Contact our office at (856) 234 – 4023.