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Increasing safety for outdoor workers during winter months

Outdoor workers in Illinois often have to continue their jobs even when temperatures drop and conditions become potentially hazardous. In an effort to help employers in the Prairie State keep their outdoor workers safe, OSHA is spreading information about ways to prevent winter accidents.

Employers are urged to reduce the risk of on-the-job injury incidents by ensuring that workers have proper personal protective equipment. This includes personal fall protection systems for employees working from high locations during winter months. While rooftop snow removal accidents contribute to several injuries and deaths annually, OSHA doesn't have specific snow removal standards. However, guidelines are in place for ladders and aerial lifts. Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that employers provide reasonable protection against cold weather, snow, ice and similar hazardous conditions.

However, employers are advised not to assume their employees are aware of such preventative steps. Proper winter weather training as per OSHA standards, especially for workers coming from areas where such conditions aren't common, may also minimize an employer's liability risks should accidents occur. It's also recommended that employers extend these winter hazard prevention training efforts to include how to perform routine inspections of vehicles used for work-related purposes, the correct steps for dealing with jammed snowblowers and the safe way to remove storm-damaged trees or excess snow from rooftops.

Not every workplace accident claim requires assistance from an attorney. However, if claims are denied or unreasonably delayed, a lawyer might be able to help facilitate the process. Legal assistance may also involve providing representation in front of a workers' compensation judge or referee, documenting similar instances of failing to provide access to necessary safety equipment or seeking input from medical experts.

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