Illinois often has relatively harsh winters, which means that both workers and employers need to think about the potential safety consequences of severe weather. With snowstorms, cold temperatures and icy roads comes the risk for injury and different kinds of workplace accidents.
When you understand and acknowledge those risk factors, you can help protect yourself and other people at your place of employment more effectively. You can also let your employer know if they haven’t taken adequate safety precautions for certain, noteworthy concerns.
Those working outside need heat and shelter
Working long hours outdoors safely is possible in colder temperatures, provided that employees have adequate gear, warm clothing and warming stations or sheltered spaces in which they can take breaks. Workers who will be outside for long amounts of time should learn about the warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia to protect themselves and others.
Adjust travel time expectations around weather conditions
Neither staff nor supplies can arrive at locations as quickly in the winter months as they can when the roads are clear. Companies should have a realistic expectation regarding delivery times and travel times that reflect the weather. Staff members who drive as part of their job should also plan for the extra time necessary to clear off a vehicle and slow down for safety.
Clearing snow can lead to back injuries
Large sidewalks and parking lots often require hours of strenuous shoveling if professional plowing services aren’t available. The same may be true of a flat roof on an industrial building after particularly heavy snow. It may be necessary to remove the snow for safety purposes, but doing so may put workers at increased risk for injury or strain.
Slips and falls aren’t just risks for retail businesses
With high levels of precipitation and snowy buildup comes the risk of someone having a slip-and-fall accident. A slip-and-fall could occur in the parking lot or on sidewalks close to their place of employment. It could also happen on the factory floor if workers track snow in on their clothes and boots.
Adequate water-absorbing rugs near entrances, as well as sufficient janitorial and custodial staff, are necessary to keep facilities clean and safe during the snowy winter months.
Winter workplace injuries may mean workers’ compensation claims
If you throw out your back shoveling snow or slip on ice in the parking lot and break your arm, you will have weeks of missed work and medical bills to worry about. Thankfully, workers’ compensation in Illinois will cover winter weather-related injuries that you suffer on the job.
Temporary disability benefits will cover a portion of your lost wages, while medical benefits can help ensure that you get the treatment you need to get back to work as soon as possible.