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Maintaining outdoor worker safety in winter weather conditions

Unfortunately, not everyone has the option of heading indoors when temperatures drop in New Jersey. This is why businesses that employ outdoor workers are encouraged to take extra steps to ensure safety during winter. Employers should be certain that company vehicles are well-maintained, fall protection systems are set up for tasks involving heights and appropriate personal protective equipment is provided.

Rooftop snow removal often tops the list of winter-related tasks that can lead to workers' compensation claim filings because of injuries. OSHA doesn't have standards specific to removing snow from roofs, but they do have guidelines that govern the maintenance and use of the ladders and aerial lifts employees often use to clear snow-covered roofs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act has a clause in it that states employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers from recognized workplace hazards. This includes occupational risks related to ice, wind, snow and other types of winter weather. OSHA standards also require employers to provide appropriate winter weather training specific to such things as winter driving, working on elevated surfaces that may be slippery and snow removal.

Through its outreach initiatives, OHSA reminds employers to train employees on how to check visibility systems and other essential vehicle components in winter. The agency also advises employers to set up work zones with traffic controls and be sure staff only uses powered equipment designed for outdoor conditions.

Even if a workplace accident isn't an OSHA violation, the injured employee may still be eligible for benefits that cover health care costs and missed wages. The workers' compensation program is designed to provide benefits as long as the employee's injuries are job-related. An attorney could help a worker through the appeals process if a claim is denied.

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