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Safety tips for employees working in winter

Residents of Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. may wonder how to stay safe in slippery or snowy conditions. Everything from controlling traffic to downed tree limb removal should be considered when making a workplace safer for employees. OSHA states that employers are required by law to protect employees from cold weather, ice, snow and wind.

For example, the activity most commonly associated with winter occupational hazards is rooftop snow removal. Workers are often seriously injured or even killed while removing snow or ice from rooftops, decks and other structures. OSHA recommends snow removal methods that do not necessitate employees climbing onto roofs, the evaluation of loads exerted on the roof, the requirement that employees always use equipment that will protect them in the event of a fall and that people exercise caution when operating ladders and aerial lifts.

Employers should also ensure that vehicles are inspected by trained workers to ensure safety in winter conditions. Brakes, cooling systems and tires are examples of areas that should be inspected. Failure to do so puts employees at risk. Work zones are another safety concern. Snow-covered and/or icy roads may result in a driver skidding into a work zone. Therefore, work zones should be protected by barriers, barrels, cones and signs to reduce the odds of a vehicle losing control and striking someone. The removal of downed tree limbs should also be closely monitored. Since the limbs will be coated in ice or snow, they will be heavier. Heavier limbs combined with slippery surfaces make this activity especially hazardous in the winter. Employees should always wear protective equipment, such as goggles and gloves, when working with downed tree limbs.

Even if proper safety protocol is followed, it is still possible for employees to sustain injuries in the winter months. An attorney with experience in workers' compensation may be able to help an injured person be compensated for his or her injury. Injured employees may be eligible for compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and transportation costs among other things.

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