In Chicago and other northern cities, the arrival of winter brings with it the potential for devastating falls that can cause severe injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States Department of Labor has compiled a list of various measure that can reduce or eliminate the risk of accident.
Snow – the white hazard
No one can deny that winter paints a beautiful sheen on the northern landscape, but the beauty of snow can also hide a number of risks for serious workplace injuries. Snow is especially deceptive because it often covers conditions that can cause the most serious injuries. Icy sidewalks and icy roads are two of the most obvious conditions that are often hidden by snow.
What can employers do?
Employers can cut down on the risk of employee injury by keeping sidewalks, loading docks and roads free of snow and ice. These areas should be plowed or shoveled as soon as possible after a winter storm. An effective ice melting compound can also be used to clean concrete and wooden surfaces.
What can an employee do?
Employees have a number of cautionary procedures that they can use to avoid. Proper footwear is perhaps the most important. Workers should be trained to wear proper boots or other footwear. The soles should be specially designed and manufactured to resist slipping and to be water resistant.
Regardless of footwear, employees should cope with snow by taking shorter steps and moving at a slower pace. On some surfaces, such as step ladders, removing the snow should provide significant protection.
Third party claims
Most workers are aware of the availability of workers compensation benefits for injuries sustained by falling on ice or snow. In some instances, the employer may have hired a firm to conduct snow removal operations. If the third party was negligent in removing snow and ice, an injured worker may be able to recover damages from the third party. In such cases, a conference with an experienced personal injury attorney can help determine the viability of a third party claim for damages.