Five Things You Should Know About Winter Work Accidents
Here in New Jersey, we’re no stranger to extreme weather conditions. During December, January and February, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to remain below freezing all day and night. Even in the southernmost regions of the state, snowfall can frequently occur between November and April.
Naturally, when winter arrives, temperatures plummet, winds soar, and rainfall and snowfall increase, making roads, pathways and outdoor work environments more dangerous. Unfortunately, with these dangers comes a heightened risk of accidents, many of which result in minor injuries, but some can cause lifelong inflictions and even death.
It’s important to prepare yourself for the winter season by knowing what to expect and taking necessary precautions. However, it’s also the responsibility of your employer to provide you with adequate safety gear and safe working conditions to prevent disasters. Below, we detail five things you need to know about winter work accidents:
Winter weather conditions cause thousands of work-related accidents every year
In 2016, over 101 occupational fatalities occurred in New Jersey. Besides 2013, when there were 102 work-related deaths, this is the highest figure since 2006, when 106 workers lost their lives. These numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of work-related accidents that happen every winter in New Jersey. Up to 9% of New Jersey’s employees are considered to work in high-risk jobs.
Slips and falls are among the most common causes of winter work-related fatalities
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 887 workers across the US lost their lives due to falls in 2017, many of which were due to slippery surfaces during winter. That’s the most fall-related deaths in the 26-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. However, transportation incidents accounted for 40% of occupational fatalities in the same year. Be careful on those slippery New Jersey roads during winter.
Exposure to the elements during the long New Jersey winter can cause hypothermia
Our bodies aren’t designed to withstand extreme cold climates without adequate clothing to keep us warm. The consequences of being exposed to freezing temperatures for too long can include hypothermia, which can cause uncomfortable and painful symptoms at best and death at worst. If you’re expected to work outdoors during winter, make sure your employer provides you with suitable clothing and safety gear.
Surprisingly, extreme temperatures increase the risk of electrocution
Heavy rainfall and strong winds can cause power lines to not only fail but also fall, which is why the risk of electrocution for workers, pedestrians and drivers increases during winter.
Your employer has a legal obligation to minimize the risk of work-related accidents
While you should take extra care to protect your health and life during winter, it’s your employer’s responsibility to provide you with everything you need to remain safe while at work. These responsibilities may include ensuring surfaces are slip-resistant, offering additional training, providing safety gear and warm clothing, allowing for more breaks, and preparing vehicles for icy roads.