Crazy winter weather increases risk of North Carolina work accidents, slip and fall injuries

Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Greenville know whether you are at work, running errands, or at play, this season’s exceptionally snowy weather puts all Carolina residents at increased risk of sustaining an injury. Icy sidewalks are among the most dangerous slip-and-fall hazards. Match frozen streets and highways with poor visibility and you’ve got a perfect recipe for car accidents in the Carolinas.

WCNC-NBC Charlotte reports that during last week’s icy weather, between falling ice and falling pedestrians, emergency responders answered 56 calls regarding snow-linked Charlotte-area injuries. Heavy snow, sporadic power outages, falling ice and slick streets and sidewalks made for hazardous travel for residents and challenging clean-up efforts for transportation workers.
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Star News reports that Carolina law enforcement responded to more than 100 weather-related Carolina car accidents last Monday alone. As winter storms snarled both air and road travel, schools closed and business- and homeowners hunkered down to weather the weather, Gov. Bev Purdue issued a state of emergency as conditions deteriorated.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recognizes that while most workers are office- or home-bound during stormy weather, emergency responders, government and military personnel, law enforcement and utility and sanitation workers are often called to duty during the worst times to travel safely. With that in mind, employers have an obligation to keep their workers – and the public – out of harm’s way regardless of the weather. Preventing a Carolina injury accident should be the first order of business when a storm is approaching.

OSHA notes that 25 percent of all injuries sustained during winter storms result from exposure and another 70 percent are caused by weather-related car accidents. Injuries typical for winter storm weather include:

~ Car accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, slip-and-fall accidents, sprains and strains.

~ Frostbite and hypothermia, being struck by falling objects (icicles, overburdened tree limbs), being trapped or crushed from a roof collapse.

~ Dehydration, exhaustion, heart attacks.

~ Burns and electrocution.

The Injured Workers Insurance Fund reminds us that everyone is a pedestrian at some point during the day. IWIF recommends that aside from a heightened sense of awareness regarding slick surfaces, Carolina workers and residents review the following safety tips before heading outdoors:

~ First and foremost: assume all wet-looking or dark patchy spots on any ground surface are icy.

~ Dress appropriately: wear footgear that provides traction and keep in mind that wearing a heavy coat can help pad a fall.

~ Be particularly cautious when entering or exiting a vehicle or building. Use designated walk paths. Walk slowly, and take short shuffling steps. Keep your hands free and your arms extended to help you maintain your balance.

~ If you do feel yourself falling, try to avoid landing on your spine or a joint (knee, wrist, elbow). Do you best to relax – tensing up will only exacerbate an injury – and try to land where you have natural cushioning.

The the Lee & Smith injury attorneys in Asheville , Greensboro and Spartanburg know that being involved in a serious or fatal Carolina accident, or losing a loved one to a serious or fatal injury accident, can be devastating. If you are involved in a serious accident anywhere across the Carolinas, call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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