What Work-Related Accidents Occur More Often During Autumn?
September 7, 2021
The risk of certain types of work-related accidents tend to vary as seasons change. Extreme heat in the summer and severe cold in winter create obvious dangers for outdoor workers. In the fall, seasonal hazards may not be as apparent. Wind, fog, unexpected frost, wet leaves, and shorter daylight hours can expose workers to a higher risk of struck-by accidents, falls, vehicle collisions, and back-over incidents.
In particular, struck-by accidents are the top cause of injuries and the second cause of worker fatalities in the construction industry. Understanding how seasonal changes affect accident rates can help employers and premises owners prevent workplace injuries.
How Does Fall Weather Increase the Risk of Workplace Accidents?
Workers who have endured the heat and humidity of summer welcome the coming of cooler autumn breezes. However, fall weather can increase the risk of accidents on outdoor jobsites in the following ways:
- Poor visibility: Fog and rain can limit a truck or equipment operator’s ability to see pedestrians, which may lead to more vehicle collisions and back over accidents.
- Slippery surfaces: Asphalt roads and sidewalks that are covered in wet leaves can be as slippery and dangerous as ice, increasing the number of slip and fall accidents.
- Wind: Wind gusts increase the risk of certain types of struck-by accidents. Average daily wind speeds in Pennsylvania climb several miles per hour from September to mid-December.
- Unexpected frost or snow: Black ice can form quickly especially at jobsites located on bridges and overpasses, increasing the risk of auto accidents and slip and fall accidents.
- Shorter daylight hours: Earlier nightfall may catch outdoor workers by surprise. This can lead to more falls or pedestrian accidents. Flaggers and other workers in construction zones are especially vulnerable to being hit by vehicles as the sun sets, particularly on a cloudy day. In the Philadelphia area, the percentage of time that the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy increases to nearly 50 percent during November.
Knowing more about back over incidents, slip and falls, and struck-by accidents can help prevent work injures in the fall.
What are Back Over Incidents?
Back over incidents happen when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, kneeling, or walking behind it on a jobsite. These types of accidents most often occur when a worker is positioned in the vehicle’s blind spot. However, poor visibility due to fall weather conditions can also cause a driver to unintentionally back over a coworker. Poor visibility can also contribute to a rise in vehicle collisions on a jobsite.
Employers are responsible for implementing safety measures that can help prevent back over incidents. These include installing sensors, backup cameras, and loud backup alarms on vehicles, equipping workers with brightly colored safety vests, and training workers to avoid standing in vehicle blind spots.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
The risk of having a slip and fall accident at work is highest in the construction industry. Many construction workers die each year from injuries caused by slip, trip, and fall accidents. Incidents involving slipping happen when there is not enough friction between a person’s feet and the surface on which they are walking. Wet surfaces are the primary cause of slips, including surfaces covered in wet leaves or frost as well as spills.
The most common injuries due to slipping at a construction site are back strains, sprained ankles, and knee injuries. However, closed head injuries, herniated discs, and bone fractures can result from a slipping accident depending upon how the person falls and what type of surface they hit.
Employers can help reduce the possibility of worker injury due to slipping by training workers to watch for and address slippery conditions and installing better lighting. In the fall, it is especially important to ensure there is adequate outdoor lighting when it starts to get dark earlier and sunrise happens later.
What are the Four Types of Struck-By Accidents?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the four types of struck-by accidents include the following:
- Struck-by flying object
- Struck-by falling object
- Struck-by swinging object
- Struck-by rolling object
Windy conditions in the fall tend to increase the number of struck-by swinging object accidents. When a crane or other piece of equipment mechanically lifts a heavy load, there is always the potential that it will swing further than it is supposed to and strike a worker. Wind makes it more difficult for operators to keep cranes under control. Objects at higher levels may also be dislodged by high winds and strike workers below, causing a struck-by falling accident.
What Should Workers Do if They are Injured on the Job?
Workers who are injured on the job should always notify their supervisor as soon as possible. Workers’ Compensation benefits are available to injured employees, no matter who is at fault for the accident. However, employers are not obligated to pay these benefits until the employee gives notice to the employer about the injury. This includes providing details about the specific date, time, and location of the accident and subsequent medical records regarding treatment.
It is important for injured employees to know that it is not enough to just tell their supervisors that they are not coming to work because they are hurt. Employees must specifically state that they cannot work due to an injury on the job, and they must follow company policies for reporting their injury. In addition, workers must give notice within 21 days of the date of their injury to be paid from the first day of their disability.
Employers must post guidelines explaining how workers give notice of injury. If they choose to control who injured workers see for treatment, employers must also post a list of doctors that workers must visit in order to be covered by Workers’ Compensation. If an employer does not post of list of doctors, injured workers can go to any doctor they choose. It is very important to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible because medical records will be used as the basis for granting financial benefits to pay for medical bills and lost wages.
Should an Injured Worker Call a Lawyer?
There are many reasons why injured workers should call a lawyer after an on-the-job accident. First, injured workers who are unaware of their rights and responsibilities under Pennsylvania law may miss the financial benefits that they deserve. In addition, the paperwork involved in filing a Workers’ Compensation claim can be complex, and an employer may attempt to deny or minimized a claim. A qualified lawyer can level the playing field by helping injured workers with the process of filing a claim.
In addition, employees who are injured should not assume that Workers’ Compensation is their only means of handling mounting medical bills and lost wages. A premises owner or other third party may also be liable for work-related injuries at construction sites and other locations. An experienced lawyer can investigate the details of a work-related accident to determine if a third-party claim is valid, allowing the injured worker to recover financial damages in addition to the benefits provided by Workers’ Compensation.
Our legal team at Galfand Berger LLP has handled numerous third-party claims for injured workers, including the following:
- $1 million settlement for vehicle back-over accident at a construction site. A demolition worker was struck by a truck that was backing up to haul away a dumpster. The accident fractured the worker’s hip, requiring a hip replacement that ended up getting severely infected. Our legal team filed a lawsuit on behalf of the injured worker. The case settled in excess of $1,000,000 before trial.
Knowing your rights is the best way to protect your eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits. After a severe work accident, you should contact a lawyer if you need help with your claim.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Assist Injured Workers Every Season of the Year
Work-related injuries can happen at any time. If you were injured in a work accident, contact our Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a free consultation. We will review your case and answer your questions. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.