Winter weather means different safety standards apply to workers. In New Jersey, employers have a duty to protect employees from serious hazards at work, such as cold weather, ice, wind, snow and other winter conditions. Workplace safety is regulated at the federal level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which publishes regulations that apply to safe outdoor work in the winter.
For example, OSHA requires that workers be properly trained to deal with winter weather. This is of particular importance for people who are inexperienced with winter weather and individuals who have recently relocated from a warmer area. Employees should be instructed about the basics of protection from cold and winter hazards. They should also receive more specific training regarding tasks like snow removal, working at elevation and winter driving.
Employers also should make sure workers are trained to inspect company vehicles and assess their readiness for winter conditions. OSHA’s Winter Weather advises that a vehicle’s cooling system, brakes, electrical system, exhaust system, oil, tires, engine and visibility be checked. Workers should receive training about what to do if they are stranded in their vehicles. It is more likely that employees will lose control of their vehicles or skid while driving on snowy or icy roads, leading to on-the-job accidents.
People who suffer injuries at work may be able to recover by filing claims with the state workers’ compensation system. Generally, it is not required that a person demonstrate negligence or fault on the part of his or her employer in order to secure compensation for lost wages and other damages. An attorney with experience handling workers’ comp cases may be able to help by drafting and filing the documents necessary to initiate a claim or communicating with government officials on behalf of his or her client.