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Why winter can be particularly hazardous for workers

As residents across New York brace for the cold of the winter months, employers and employees are advised to take steps to avoid winter weather hazards. From slips-and-falls to motor vehicle accidents, the safety of many employees is adversely affected by inclement winter weather conditions.

During 2010 alone, among U.S. workers, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 38 percent of the total number of reported fatalities. While it's obviously impossible to control the weather or the condition of the roads and highways upon which workers must travel, employers are advised to establish and "enforce driver safety policies." Additionally, work vehicles should undergo regular and routine maintenance inspections to include the tires, brakes, engine and electrical systems.

 

Those employees who work road construction during the winter months are also at an increased risk of being victims of motor vehicle accidents. While traveling through work zones, a driver may lose control of his or her vehicle and leave the roadway or crash into another vehicle. For the men and women who must work in close proximity to slippery roadways, it's important to ensure work zones are clearly marked and blocked off with construction cones and barrels.

For workers, snow and ice are among the most common winter weather hazards. Employers should take steps to ensure that building entrances and outdoor walkways are cleared of snow and ice. Additionally, employers should encourage the use of or provide workers with insulated footwear with rubber treads. Workers should also be reminded of possible slippery conditions and advised to use caution when traversing over snow or ice-packed areas.

Source: OSHA, "Winter Weather: Hazards/Precautions," Dec. 8, 2015

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