Worker safety considerations during the winter months

While many Pennsylvania residents look forward to the winter months and the holiday season, workers coping with seasonal crowds or those who are required to work outside may have different views. December is the busiest month of the year for many retail and warehouse operations, and a surge in foot traffic can lead to congested aisles and packed pallets. Those tasked with keeping workplaces safe must be particularly vigilant during busy periods as a slip or other mishap could lead to civil lawsuits being filed by customers as well as workers' compensation claims from employees.

Slips and falls are a leading cause of on-the -job injuries, and freezing winter conditions add an additional layer of danger for many workplaces. Steps to reduce the risks posed by frozen puddles include stepping up efforts to clean up sills and providing workers with footwear designed to maximize grip in slippery conditions. Heavily trafficked areas should also be treated with sand or grit to improve traction and signs should be posted advising workers and visitors to be cautious.

The cold of the winter months can make travel to and from the workplace unpleasant, but those who are expected to toil outdoors face potentially serious consequences such as hypothermia and frostbite. Once again, ensuring that workers have appropriate clothing is an important first step. Workers should also be provided with heated rest areas if possible and encouraged to eat and drink to keep their energy levels up and avoid dehydration.

The winter months can also be a time of soaring bills and increased expenditure, and the benefits provided by Pennsylvania's workers' compensation program may help injured workers to make ends meet. However, filing a claim and providing the required medical evidence to support it can be daunting for some, and an attorney who has experience with these types of matters can often be of assistance in this regard.

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