We have always said that nearly every job carries with it some sort of injury danger. Whether it is workers getting hurt in a single accident, the muscle strain that accompanies repetitive motion or deadly conditions that can arise from toxic exposure, workers must remain vigilant in keeping themselves safe. Winter in the Midwest, however, adds an entirely new layer to occupational danger.
Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighted the fact that in 2014, there were 42,480 workers who required at least one day away from work due to ice, sleet or snow. Of these reported injuries, 82 percent were due to falls directly tied to the winter weather.
Slips, trips and falls
While a significant amount of work injuries in the winter weather can be related to physical exertion or even vehicle collisions, the majority of these injuries occurred after slips, trips and falls. These types of accidents occur due to the environment quickly changing from rain to ice to snow and back. Individuals might be wearing work-appropriate but not weather-appropriate shoes and fall while performing job-duties.
A study conducted by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in Pennsylvania looked at emergency room visits the morning following a snowfall over a five-year period. The data was published by the National Institutes of Health. Based on the significance of these injuries, the health department recommended work closures or delayed start times to allow for better snow or ice removal.
While this likely won’t happen, it is crucial for employees to remember to file a workers’ compensation claim when they are hurt performing a job task. Falling while walking across an icy parking lot on the way to start your shift might seem like a gray area, but it is worth discussing with an experienced attorney. Many workers shy away from making a claim for compensation benefits fearing they will somehow get in trouble – or that the accident was purely their fault. Getting the right legal guidance can make all the difference between giving yourself time to heal and facing significant financial peril.