North Carolina winters can increase the risks outdoor workers face. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds employers that the primary cause for industrial injuries nationwide is fall hazards. This danger is underscored by the number of workers' compensation claims that follow slips, trips and falls across the country every year. The chances of workers falling are significantly higher during the months when workers must negotiate icy and snow-covered walking surfaces.
Safety authorities advise workers to avoid rushing by giving themselves sufficient time. Walking on steps can be dangerous if the feet are not firmly placed on each step, and using the handrails can provide additional stability. Another precaution is to walk slower than usual, with slightly bent knees and using shorter steps to allow quick responses when changes in traction occur. The hands and arms play an essential role in a person's ability to maintain balance, and traversing slippery walkways while carrying large or heavy objects is a recipe for disaster.
Workers must be reminded that even where snow has been removed, surfaces could still be icy. When fog, dew and water vapor freeze, black ice forms. It is a very thin layer of ice, which is almost invisible, and therefore very dangerous. Although it is a natural instinct to use one's arms and hands to break a fall, it is best to avoid that because arms, wrists and bones in the hands are sure to fracture. Fall hazards are even present indoors where people bring wetness from outside.
Victims of fall accidents in North Carolina workplaces might find themselves unable to return to work for some time. Along with lost wages, they will also face mounting medical bills, all of which could be quite stressful. Fortunately, the state-regulated workers' compensation system offers financial relief. However, the claims process could be challenging, and the assistance and skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney can be an invaluable asset.