The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

Worker safety essential in North Carolina's severe weather


North Carolina residents may think the worst of the storms are over, as winter is now finally giving way to spring. However, the most dangerous weather in North Carolina often begins at this time, as tornadoes, flash flooding and severe thunderstorms are just coming to the mountains now. Different parts of North Carolina are going to face different weather challenges, with the west threatened more by thunderstorms than by tornadoes.

In last year alone, the state saw 10 tornadoes and around 500 instances of severe thunderstorms, leading to three fatalities and 10 injuries. Trees were uprooted, and roads and park trails were closed as a result of the weather. Flooding was also a problem, as a lot of rain over a short period of time led to dozens of landslides, one of which ended up killing one railroad worker. When a worker is injured or dies as a result of injuries suffered due to a work accident, the victim or their family members may be able to claim workers' compensation benefits from their employer.

Not only are workers at risk for injuries during this severe weather but the aftermath is also dangerous, particularly when state employees go to clean up the destruction the weather leaves behind. Falling trees, landslides and even car accidents are a hazard as cars skid through the wet roads and overlook the workers on the side of the road. Workers should not only wear bright clothing when working on the street, but also should demarcate the working area with bright cones.

Though it is not possible to fully remedy the injuries workers suffer when they are hurt on the job, a workers' compensation claim may be one way to cover medical expenses and replace wages lost due to the time off an injured worker must take. When a worker passes away as a result of injuries, their family may be able to bring the workers' compensation claim.

Source: Black Mountain News, "Plan for severe weather ahead of spring storms," Sabian Warren, Mar. 3, 2014

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