Winter Brings Risk – And Lawsuits

Winter is Coming…

This winter season has already presented us with remarkably challenging weather conditions ranging from blowing snow to bone-chilling cold, to roads turned quickly into sheets of ice. I had a call in to my plumber for an early morning appointment and he was two hours late because his van was unmanageable on the icy roads, and when he finally arrived he was clearly shaken by his experience – which included doing an unintentional 180 degree turn on a busy roadway. With winter comes the need for increased vigilance about all of the ways that injuries can happen and the dangers that may await us right outside of our door, especially if we work outside. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and healthy.

First and foremost, be careful walking! It’s one of the earliest skills that we learn, but when there is ice and snow on the ground things can become treacherous, especially after dark when black ice makes its appearance. Falling accounts for more than one out of every six workers’ comp claims and you don’t want one to be you, as a bad fall can result in broken bones, bruising and back injuries. Make sure your shoes have adequate tread, walk slowly, and keep your eyes open for ice. Remember that your health is more important than the job you’re doing and you’re no good to your boss if you’re hurt, so don’t put yourself at risk.

Did You See That?

Don’t know if anybody saw the video on the news the other day of the guy shoveling snow without a shirt on, but my first thought was … well, never mind. This was a person who was clearly not thinking about his own health. Don’t do what he did, and don’t take on shoveling if you are at any kind of known health risk or if you already have a bad back. If you do shovel, make sure that you don’t try to do too much. Use the right tools – there are some really great shovels out there right now, including some with wheels – and make sure warm that you are dressed appropriately, with gloves, coat, boots and a head covering. If you’re using a snowblower, whether on the job or athome, make sure that you know how to use it and that it is in proper working order. Don’t try to unblock the chute with your hand, use protective gear for your head, your ears and your eyes, and if you’re using an electrical model, make sure that the cord is safe, and clear of the auger.

Finally, make sure that you are in good enough condition and fully prepared. Drink plenty of water because all too frequently people don’t realize that they can get dehydrated in the cold. Make sure that all of your small parts (fingers, toes, nose) are well-protected so that you don’t get frostbite, and if you get wet when you’re out in the elements, get yourself dry as quickly as possible.

James Henry is a freelance writer for family law attorneys in Philadelphia area and part time contributor to

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