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Avoiding accidents this winter if you work in snow removal

New Jersey residents are no strangers to the snow and cold that come with winter. However, that familiarity doesn't necessarily make it any easier to get around and complete outdoor tasks this time of year.

In fact, the snow and cold can create dangerous conditions that cause serious accidents, especially if you work in or depend on snow removal.

That said, there are some helpful tips that can allow workers and others to avoid workplace accidents in the winter.

Use care in snowy locations

If you are removing snow from roads, walkways or buildings, take the following precautions.

  • Create a plan for removal. Think about how heavy the snow is, how to move it, and where to put it.
  • Immediately remove snow from structures like roofs to avoid leakage or collapses.
  • Do not stand in areas where snow could fall and trap you.
  • Stay away from active power lines and extension cords.

Familiarize yourself with equipment safety

The equipment you use in wintry conditions can be crucial to your safety. Be sure you:

  • Have and utilize fall protection systems when working off the ground.
  • Avoid using heavy machinery if you are impaired by fatigue, drugs or have a heart condition.
  • Ensure you have training in the operation of plows, snow blowers, aerial lifts and other equipment. 
  • Stop using faulty machinery immediately; wait until it is fixed properly to use it again.

Dress appropriately

Too many workers suffer injuries as a result of cold weather. Often, these injuries are preventable with proper clothing. Workers should have and wear:

  • Hats, gloves and coats.
  • Waterproof boots and footwear that also provides appropriate traction.
  • Eye protection, like glasses or goggles.
  • Helmets, if appropriate.

These measures help workers stay safe and avoid injuries in the winter. Unfortunately, accidents can still happen, so it is important to seek medical attention right away after an accident or injury, and examine the options for workers' compensation.

In some cases, the injuries workers suffer during the winter last much longer than a season; some could be permanent or life-threatening. As such, workers should seriously consider these measures and employers should set and enforce proper safety standards to prevent accidents.

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