Workers in Virginia may face particular hazards when heading to the job in winter weather. The chill in the air isn't the only danger that comes with the winter season: Snow and ice can pose a major threat to workplace safety. There are a number of common hazards that workers may face, especially in outdoor conditions. Employers have a responsibility to address dangers on the job and ensure that workers have suitable protective gear to avoid falls and other dangerous accidents. Cold weather, ice, snow and wind are hazardous conditions from which employers have a legal duty to protect workers.
One of the most common occupational hazards during winter weather is snow removal from heights, especially rooftops. Workers are severely injured or even killed annually while removing snow and ice from decks, rooftops and other high structures. While there is no specific federal safety standard for rooftop snow removal, regulations do require the use of fall protection systems when working on heights, and there are guidelines for the use of ladders, scaffolds and lifts.
While many people assume that their coworkers are generally familiar with how to handle winter weather, especially in a colder climate, training can be important to bring that knowledge in line with professional best practices. Workers who have moved from a warmer area may be unaccustomed to dealing with winter driving, snow removal and spotting patches of ice. Vehicles can also be a significant workplace hazard in the winter; drivers could lose control while operating on icy, snowy roads.
Workers who are injured due to winter conditions on the job may suffer severe injuries and permanent disabilities as a result. Sometimes, these injuries may be caused by an employer's disregard for workplace safety. A workers' compensation lawyer may help injured employees to protect their rights and seek the benefits they deserve.