Winter is in full swing in Albany, and with that comes cold temperatures, snowy weather and icy roads. All of these can pose serious hazards for New Yorkers whose jobs require them to spend a significant amount of time outdoors or behind the wheel of a vehicle. The risk of a work injury is particularly acute during winter storms.
In an effort to help workers stay safe on the job, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a helpful guide on staying safe during severe winter weather. All New York workers would be wise to review this guide and heed its warnings Stay safe, be prepared
According to OSHA, the vast majority of winter storm injuries - about 70 percent - can be traced back to motor vehicle accidents. Another 25 percent are exposure injuries and similar harms caused by being stuck outside during a storm. The easiest way to prevent these injuries is to be aware of weather conditions and to be prepared to handle them if you have to drive or work outside.
It is a good idea for all workers to check the weather each day before starting their shifts. If there are warnings or watches about winter storms, blizzards or wind chill hazards, make plans to be off the road and in a safe place before the storm hits.
If you must go out during severe winter weather, be sure to dress appropriately and to drive slowly and carefully. Try to always have at least a half-tank of fuel in your vehicle in case you get stranded or stuck in traffic. In addition, it is a good idea to keep a cold weather safety kit in your vehicle during the winter months. At a minimum, the kit should contain the following items:
- Windshield scraper and snow brush
- Extra warm clothes, hats and gloves
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- Matches or lighters
- Flares and jumper cables
- Bottled water and nonperishable, calorie-dense snacks
- Sand or cat litter to aid traction on icy roads
This kit will help ensure you have the supplies you need in case you get stuck in a storm. Further, always check to make sure your vehicle is in good working order before heading out.
New York Workers' Compensation Benefits
New York workers who get injured during winter storms - be it because of a car accident, a slip and fall or anything else - can seek benefits through the state workers' compensation system. Since workers' compensation is a no-fault system, injured workers can recover benefits even if their own negligence played a role in causing the accident.
If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, talk to an Albany workers' compensation attorney who can help you understand your options.