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How snow and ice create workplace safety threats

Our region of the state has a well-earned reputation for snowfall. In fact, if current trends for this winter continue, Buffalo will lead the nation again in snowfall. We're currently in first place with more than 111 inches.

Snow presents significant challenges. Streets and sidewalks need clearing. Roofs, apartment balconies and other outdoor structures might have to be shoveled. And if those employed to handle such tasks get hurt on the job, for whatever reason, they have a right to expect the benefits available under workers' compensation.

Hazards are many

According to OSHA, the most serious injuries to snow and ice removal workers result from falls from roofs, ladders or lift devices. Roof collapses are a concern, too.

Threats can include:

  • Falling icicles and ice chunks.
  • Aerial lift failures.
  • Snow blower augers and chute blades.
  • Electrical shocks from damaged extension cords or ladders contacting overhead wires.

Of no less importance are the injuries that might come due to overexertion, slips and falls.

Employers' responsibilities

As noted earlier, your employer bears the burden of making sure the environment you work in is as safe as it can be. That means providing proper equipment, training on how to use it, and having plans for rescue and treatment of injured workers.

Protecting yourself

If you suffer any injury from snow and ice hazards, there may be a legal question of whether your injury arose out of and in the course of employment, which is a legal standard that isn't always necessarily what it sounds like. Some snow and ice related accidents are not considered work related. Contacting an experienced workers' compensation law firm will give you the best chance of prevailing in your case.

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