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OSHA safety tips for outdoor winter work

Georgia employers that have their employees working outdoors in wintry conditions should take a few extra steps to ensure safety. OSHA gives tips for keeping workers safe at its Winter Weather resource site. For starters, employers must know their legal duty to protect employees from recognized hazards. In the winter, these include the cold, ice, snow and wind.

Employers must ensure that workers wear the right personal protective equipment, such as insulated gloves and steel-toed boots. Workers may also require eye, ear and head protection if they are, for example, removing trees or tree branches. Tree branch removal, a common winter activity, can lead to workers being engulfed in snow or slipping and falling, so training is essential.

Before all specific tasks, employers should provide hazard training. They should also try to orient new employees who come from regions with less severe winters. If employees will be driving snow blowers or other work vehicles, these should be inspected. If they do not carry winter windshield wipers, these should be installed.

If workers are to remove snow from a roof, it's best to use snow rakes or drag lines. Another option is to apply de-icing materials from a ladder. Either way, workers should avoid standing on the roof and risking a fall.

If the neglect of workplace safety leads to an accident, the injured worker may be left with medical expenses and a diminished ability to find employment. However, workers' compensation could provide some valuable financial assistance. Once the injured party reaches maximum medical improvement, he or she may consult with a lawyer. The lawyer could assist with the filing and even an appeal if the claim is denied.

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