All employers in Connecticut have a general duty to protect their employees from occupational hazards, including cold weather, ice, snow and wind. During the winter, employers will want to make sure everyone is properly trained, especially those who remove snow or ice from rooftops and decks. Most of the hazards are not technical in nature, though employees who are used to a more temperate climate should receive specialized training.
As part of the basics, employers should provide workers with the right personal protective equipment, well-maintained vehicles and the necessary equipment like ladders and fall protection systems. A properly trained employee could inspect vehicle components, especially the brakes, wiring, engine, exhaust, tires, oil and visibility systems, to determine readiness for winter.
Drivers, especially of snow blowers, should keep in mind the danger of skidding and losing control over snowy or ice-covered roads. They should know what to do in case they are stranded. For example, drivers should be able to operate the heating system without the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Employees must never clear a jam in the snow blower with their hands.
Regarding rooftop snow removal, employers should consider ways that do not require employees to be on the roof. For instance, using snow rakes or draglines. Employees should be specifically trained for downed tree and limb removal.
Even when employers comply with OSHA regulations and provide adequate training, accidents can occur. Employees who slip and fall, develop frostbite or are injured in any other way may be eligible for benefits through workers' compensation. Benefits could come regardless of whether the employer was at fault or not. On the other hand, the employer may accuse the victim of negligence. That's why it's important to hire a lawyer to evaluate the case; assist with the filing; and, if necessary, mount an appeal.
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