By: Peter J. Lamont, Esq.
New Jersey Business and Personal Law Attorney
Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont
Inclement weather can have a profound effect on a workplace. Freezing temperatures, heavy winds, ice, snow, and slush can turn what is normally a safe parking lot or a simple job into something hazardous. Employers have a responsibility to take steps to protect their workers during working hours when the weather is bad. The exact measures an employer needs to take to ensure workplace safety will vary depending on the nature of the business, but there are a few common sense measures that all employers should keep in mind.
First and foremost, employers should plan ahead for bad weather, as it can often strike without warning. It's a good idea to have emergency supplies on hand that would be useful for employees who are snowed in or stuck at work because the roads are too unsafe to drive on. Examples of emergency supplies include nonperishable food items, bottled water, flashlights, blankets, batteries, and a weather radio.
Even if a snowstorm isn't bad enough to strand employees in the workplace, it can still present hazardous conditions that employers need to plan for. It's a good idea to have sand or salt on hand to thaw ice and provide traction in slippery parking lots and outdoor walkways. Keep in mind that employees walking into the building from a snowstorm will track in snow, which will then melt and leave a wet floor. Employers should plan ahead by placing mats at the entrances on snowy days, as well as wet floor signs.
Employers should be very cautious when it comes to driving during a snowstorm. It's a good idea to allow extra time for employees to get to the office in the morning when the weather is bad. This way, employees will be less tempted to rush and more likely to drive safely. If the employee's job duties involve driving, they should carry an emergency kit in the car that includes flares, snacks, water, flashlights, batteries, an ice scraper and snow brush, jumper cables, and blankets. Employers should pay attention to road advisories; if people other than emergency workers and essential personnel are being asked to stay off the roads, employers should keep their nonessential employees off the roads as well.
Finally, employers should be certain that they have a reliable way to reach each employee before bad weather sets in. If a snowstorm is severe enough to warrant closing the workplace for the day, an employer should have a way to reach all employees scheduled to come in well before their shift is set to begin. Cell phones, email, and even social media profiles can all help employers quickly get the word out that employees should stay home for the day.
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© 2014, Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between the firm and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.