Employer responsibilities in winter conditions

Working in the snow and cold weather can pose risks that could result in significant personal injury. Employers throughout New York have a responsibility to reasonably protect workers from a variety of winter hazards.

Failure to take the necessary safeguards could result in a claim of negligence against an employer.

Vehicle safety

According to information from the United States Department of Labor, winter workplace injuries and motor vehicles have a strong correlation. During snow and ice storms, on-the-job driving becomes much more precarious. Employers have several responsibilities when sending out drivers in the winter:

  • Properly training drivers for likely weather conditions
  • Providing a vehicle in good working condition
  • Making sure the driver has a license to operate the vehicle

Getting stranded in a vehicle becomes more likely as the weather deteriorates. Employers should train workers on the protocols for avoiding death or injury while stranded. These measures include staying with the vehicle, notifying emergency personnel and understanding the signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

Snow clearing

Employers might ask workers to shovel or use powered devices to remove snow from sidewalks, A supervisor might also ask workers to clear snow from buildings and roofs. All of these entail risks that could lead to personal injury.

In these situations, employers should never ask an untrained worker to engage in dangerous snow removal activities. Snow blowers can cause lacerations or amputations when operated by inexperienced personnel.

Slips and falls

A business should keep all surfaces free of snow and ice. This involves hiring a company to remove snow from sidewalks and parking lots and clearing away any ice accumulation.

The chance of injury increases during winter. Employers have a duty to protect workers from winter hazards.