Requirements for Employers Scheduling Employees Working in Winter Weather

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Robert Golan

Winter weather creates a variety of hazards that can cause work-related injuries. Employers must do their best to keep their staff safe in cold, snow, and ice.

Education

Employers should have guidelines and procedures specifically for working in winter conditions. Employees should know what these rules are and they   should be strictly enforced.

Additionally, employees who will be exposed to winter elements should be taught to watch for signs of cold stress. Cold stress is when an individual’s skin temperature starts to drop. If cold exposure continues, the internal temperature of a person’s body could drop which can lead to serious long-term injury and even death. Understanding warning signs of cold stress to watch for in oneself and one’s co-workers can prevent illness and injury. Employees should learn how to treat cold stress in their specific work environments. This can include moving out of the wind, changing wet clothing, and standing near a heat source.

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Employers whose staff have lower exposure to winter weather can offer general education on winter hazards such as walking safely in icy parking areas.

Scheduling

Whenever possible, work schedules should consider cold weather, and necessary safety measures should be put in place.

Safety measures can include not working during the coldest part of the day, having shorter shifts, or changing out workers at routine intervals to limit any one person’s cold weather exposure. There should be opportunities for employees to get warm between cold   weather exposures and raise their temperatures back to safe levels.

Employers should consider whether tasks involving cold weather exposure can safely wait until temperatures rise again. For instance, routine maintenance should not be scheduled for the coldest days of the year. If outdoor tasks are scheduled in cold weather, employers should make every effort to reschedule those tasks that are not imminently necessary.

Equipment

Employers are responsible for making sure that employees have the equipment they need to work safely in winter conditions. This can include heaters, shelters, and de-icing materials.

Employers should also offer warm drinks such as coffee or tea (no alcohol) for workers who will have prolonged cold exposure.

Employers should make sure that employees understand what attire is needed for their work and employees who are not properly dressed should not be allowed to work in winter weather conditions.

Different jobs will require different equipment. An employee who works in a drive-thru window and has intermittent cold exposure will need different equipment than an employee gathering carts in a parking lot for part of their shift. Drive-thru employees and cart gatherers will need different equipment than maintenance workers and construction workers who spend a large part of their shift outdoors in winter weather. Employers must consider the tasks employees are being asked to do and provide the equipment necessary for those employees to do their jobs safely in winter weather conditions.

Have You Been Injured at Work from Winter Weather Conditions?

If you have been injured at work from winter weather and wonder if you are entitled to compensation, call Robert Golan for free lawyer advice today at (516) 586-3910  or fill out this online contact form now.

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