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Employers Have A Duty To Protect Workers From Weather-Related Threats

While all workplaces have their hazards, employees who work outdoors face unique weather-related threats. Everything from storms to heat can jeopardize worker safety. The Department of Labor has issued a reminder to employers of their duty to protect workers. 

Weather-Related Threats Come In Many Forms

The article from Medium references two recent cases in which employers failed to consider the safety of outdoor workers.

In the first case, an event company moved forward with an outdoor circus performance, despite severe storm warnings from the National Weather Service. Unfortunately, the thunderstorm caused the circus tent to collapse, injuring many workers.

The second case is a dramatically different example. Postal workers are known for doing their job, regardless of weather conditions. So it comes as no surprise that one postal worker was out delivering mail on a particularly hot day. Unfortunately, he ultimately suffered heat stroke and died the following day.

In each case, the employer was deemed responsible. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found violations. The event company did not monitor and respond reasonably to severe weather warnings, while the Postal Service did not properly train employees on recognizing and preventing heat-related illness.

The message is clear: employers have a duty to keep workers safe when they are on the job, even when working outside. Employers can be liable for injuries and illnesses resulting from storms, rain, sleet, hail, snow, tornados, freezing temperatures, hot temperatures and other potentially dangerous weather conditions.

Were You Injured While Working Outdoors?

What is not mentioned in the message from the Department of Labor is that people injured on the job may be eligible for workers' compensation. This is true in cases involving weather-related medical conditions. If you or a loved one has been hurt or has become sick because of working outdoors in dangerous weather, you should speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to explore your options. 

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