Winter can bring high winds, snow and freezing rain to New Jersey. Many workplaces have to deal with the results by clearing snow and ice from parking lots, sidewalks and roofs. Before employers send workers out to tackle the wintry mess, they have a duty to ensure that staff members understand safety procedures and have appropriate personal protective gear and well-maintained machinery.
Removing snow and ice from rooftops presents one of the most hazardous winter chores because it involves heights. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have regulations specifically for rooftop snow removal, workers should observe standard fall protections procedures. Ideally, they will employ snow-removal methods that do not require them to get up on a roof. This might involve using snow rakes or drag lines from the ground.
Snow blowers make clearing driveways and parking lots relatively easy, but workers frequently suffer broken bones, cuts and amputations when they attempt to remove ice and snow jammed inside the blades. Anyone sent to use a snowblower should receive training in its proper operation. Drivers of trucks or other heavy equipment also need to exercise caution on slippery roads. Employers should alert them to slow down and perform seasonal maintenance that could keep machines running properly in cold weather.
A person struggling to perform a task with failing machinery or no safety training faces a greater likelihood of injury. If an accident hurts someone on the job, that person has a right to pursue workers' compensation benefits. An employer, however, might wish to avoid a claim, which is why it might be advisable to have an attorney's help throughout the process.