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Don't let the weather cause you winter woes

View profile for Dan Thompson
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During the winter  months we experience many varieties of weather; from the extremes of snow and ice on a crisp clear morning, to warmer weather with stormy rain and gale-force winds.  The risk of injuries significantly increases during winter months, and here Dan Thompson, Personal Injury Partner, explains who is most at risk from the adverse weather and how injuries can easily be avoided with proper care and attention.

“Anyone can become a victim of an accident outside due to inclement weather, but it’s those who spend the majority of their time outdoors due to their occupation that are most at risk,” begins Dan.  “Professionals drivers such as lorry or taxi drivers should prepare themselves for many obstacles due to the weather, such as low sun.  Simple measures such as thoroughly cleaning the windscreen inside and out, and fixing any chips or scratches can improve your visibility dramatically when driving in these conditions.”

The possibility of black ice is also a key area of concern for drivers.  “While we haven’t had snow in Hampshire recently, we have had some very icy mornings,” continues Dan.  “In 2012, the Department for Transport identified that 38 people were killed, 544 were seriously injured and 4,584 were slightly injured on the UK’s roads due to snow or ice on the road.  If you do drive for a living or you have a long commute and you believe there may be a threat of ice, make sure your car tyres meet regulations and that you plan your journey.  If you can travel on major roads which are more likely to have been gritted then opt for that route.”

This threat of black ice is highest in rural areas where there’s less possibility the roads will be gritted.  “Established farmers will be used to working in all conditions and be familiar with the roads, but others who work in rural areas can be unprepared for this,” explains Dan.  “Other risks in rural areas include heavy flooding and tractors or other heavy machinery in the roads.  Patience and preparation are vital to ensure the safety of you and others around you.

“Road users must also be vigilant for people in the roads such as waste collection workers or construction workers as during the dark and rainy days they can be difficult to see.  In addition to this, construction workers are at risk from icy equipment, high speed winds may cause structural damage to the site they’re working on, and the ground may be slippery due to ice or wet leaves on the ground.”

It’s not only those at work who need to be cautious about the ground.  “Members of the public should also be wary about wet leaves or ice leading to treacherous walkways and pavements.  Figures from the Hospital Episode Statistics for England highlighted that 7,031 admissions to hospital in 2012/13 were as a result of people falling over on snow or ice.”

Employers should always be aware of the condition of their building and the safety of their workers.  Dan explains, “All employers must take reasonable steps to ensure their employees and visitors are safe.  Risks assessments should be reviewed regularly and staff should be supplied with the relevant protective clothing when working outside.  The employer should also take care to ensure any pavements or walkways are clear, but there is an expectation that members of the public show diligence for their own wellbeing.”

Dan concludes, “During winter we want to either enjoy the cold but bright days outside, or we’re rushing from one place to the other trying not to get caught out in the rain.  Over the years of working in Personal Injury I’ve seen the accidents that can happen in either of these situations, and while the conditions cannot be avoided, accidents can be by making simple adjustments to our daily routines and taking the time to assess our surroundings.”

If you’ve had an accident and want to learn more about how Warner Goodman LLP can help you back onto your feet, contact Dan or another member of the Injury Team on 0800 91 92 30 or visit their section of the website here.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.