Work safety is an important topic year-round, but every season brings different safety hazards that need to be addressed. As autumn progresses, employers can promote worker safety by reminding their employees of important issues. Autumn weather is unpredictable, so workers need to be prepared for every type of temperature and precipitation. Dressing in layers is advisable to accommodate temperature fluctuations, and a jacket can provide warmth and weather protection. Warm neck gaiters are also a safer choice than long scarves to avoid getting caught in machinery.
Workers should be trained to recognize the signs of hyperthermia, such as shivering, trembling, lack of coordination, confusion, and drowsiness, which can all indicate that body temperature has dropped too far. Colder autumn temperatures also present the danger of ice patches forming overnight on bridges, overpasses, and walkways. While workers are driving, biking, or walking to work, they must be on the lookout for ice to avoid car accidents or slip and fall accidents.
Autumn storms can be dangerous if thunder and lightning is in the forecast. Never wait until lightning strikes can be seen, if thunder can be heard, workers should get indoors. If this is not possible, they should stay away from high locations and out of the path of lightning. Rooftops and towers in the vicinity of electrical equipment and circuits are all dangerous places to be during storms. Even storms without thunder and lightning can be dangerous. Workers operating motor vehicles should remember to slow down during rainstorms to avoid tires hydroplaning on wet roads. Keep windshield wipers in good condition, and check headlamps to ensure the bulbs are working and directed at the correct angle on the road.
Why are Leaves Dangerous?
Autumn foliage is enjoyable, but leaves can also pose a safety hazard. Accumulated leaves may appear dry, but they can be wet and slippery underneath, increasing the risk of slip and fall accidents. Leaves can stick to shoes, ladders, and other equipment, causing workers to fall from heights. Outdoor workers must be sure to clear the area of fallen leaves before beginning any tasks.
Accidents happen when motor vehicles have difficulty braking because of wet leaves, and they can also hide curbs and potholes, causing problems for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths, so employers should continually remind workers operating motor vehicles of the following safety practices for driving:
- Always wear a seat belt.
- Put cellphones away and program navigation before starting to drive. Use airplane mode or Do Not Disturb mode while driving to reduce the temptation to check messages and emails.
- Always follow the speed limit and leave plenty of time to get to the destination.
- Check back up cameras and mirrors for co-workers and pedestrians before driving in reverse. If the vehicle has a back-up signal, be sure it is in working order.
Diminishing Light Presents Dangers
As autumn progresses, the days grow shorter, and workers must adjust to the diminishing hours of daylight. The sun will start to set during evening rush hour traffic, making glare a safety issue for outdoor workers who operate motor vehicles. It is important to leave more stopping distance, use sun visors, and be prepared with sunglasses. Cleaning mirrors and window glass can also reduce glare.
Being seen is as vital to safety as being able to see. Reflective safety vests or jackets can help ensure that drivers can see outdoor workers as they do their jobs early in the morning and at dusk. Workers using power tools and machinery should be extra aware of pedestrians and children who may be passing by.
With less daylight, it can also be difficult to stay alert and awake. Autumn means going to work while it is still dark outside and continuing to work as the sun goes down earlier. To remain focused on the tasks at hand, workers should stay hydrated and stretch during the day to aid alertness.
Prevent the Spread of Communicable Illnesses
Autumn is the start of flu season. This year, it is also combined with an anticipated resurgence of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). To be prepared and avoid the spread of illnesses, employers should encourage every employee to get a flu shot or host a flu clinic at the workplace. Make it clear that employees should not come to work if they are sick with cough, fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, muscle aches, diarrhea, or are experiencing shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or loss of taste or smell. Employers should have plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies on hand.
Employer’s Responsibility for a Safe Workplace
Every employer has the responsibility to maintain a workplace free of safety hazards. Almost all workplace accidents are preventable, and employers that take safety seriously will invest in safety programs that encourage the input and participation of their employees. Good maintenance and housekeeping programs go a long way toward reducing the risk of accidents and injuries at work.
What Steps Should I Take After a Work-Related Accident?
If one is injured in a work-related accident, the first step is to report the injury to an employer or supervisor. This is important because in Pennsylvania, there is a time limit of 120 days for reporting injuries, and if a worker misses this deadline, they are no longer eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Although the law allows for 120 days, it is best to report the injury as soon as possible. If a worker hesitates to report an injury, their employer or their insurer may not take the claim seriously. The next step is seeing a doctor for treatment. A worker should mention that they were injured in a work-related accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Even if a worker was partially at-fault for the work accident, they still have the right to Workers’ Compensation benefits that will cover medical expenses and lost wages. An injured employee is not required to use a lawyer to file a claim for benefits, they can file the claim on their own. However, there are many benefits to working with an experienced attorney. A lawyer is aware of the deadlines, can gather evidence needed to support their client’s claim, ensure that they receive the maximum allowable compensation for their case, and will know if any settlement offered is a fair amount.
Bucks County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Assist Injured Employees
For help with any Workers’ Compensation claim, you can turn to our skilled and experienced Bucks County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. We fight to protect the rights of injured workers. Call us at 888-999-1962 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.