On the Job Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in Winter

November 29, 2023
Stern & Cohen
Cars in winter storm

As the winter months approach and the cold weather makes it way to Pennsylvania, it is time to start preparing for the holidays and ensuring that you are getting your winter clothing ready. This also means that it is the time of year in which snow, ice, sleet, and a number of other weather-related complications could arise, and these complications can result in workplace injuries. These injuries could be as simple as slipping on ice or injuries arising from shoveling snow to hypothermia or frostbite. So, as the temperatures drop and festivities begin, it is important that you are aware of your workers’ compensation rights if you end up suffering from a winter work injury, especially if you work outdoors. 

Which injuries should you be looking out for? 

  • Slipping/tripping and falling on snow or ice injuries as these injuries could result in severe spinal and head injuries among others.  
  • Electrocution injuries resulting from downed power lines. 
  • Car accidents caused by snow or ice.  
  • Hypothermia, frostbite, and inflamed blood vessels as a result of cold exposure.  
  • Other falling injuries such as falling off of roofs or down steps.  

Who is most likely to be exposed to harsh winter conditions and related injuries? 

  • Snow removal personnel 
  • Emergency responders 
  • Utility workers 
  • Construction workers 
  • Maintenance workers 
  • Truck/Delivery drivers 

How Do I Know if Workers’ Compensation Applies?  

To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires that the injury must occur in the course and scope of your employment. This simply means that for the injury to be compensable, you must either (1) be working when the injury occurs or (2) on the employer’s premises when the injury occurs, and you are required to be on the premises by the employer. The premises of an employer do not just entail the inside of the building itself; it also includes both on-site parking lots and off-site parking lots, sidewalks, and pathways. Therefore, you can receive compensation for frostbite that occurs while you are using the employer’s machine outside because you were working when the injury occurred. You may also be compensated for an injury that occurs when you step outside for a breath of fresh air at work and slip while in the employer’s parking lot as you are required to be on the employer’s premises during work hours and the premises is where the injury.  

However, you need not be on site for a work injury to be compensable. For example, if your employer directs you to travel by motor vehicle to a jobsite, and the vehicle slides on ice which results in you becoming injured, the injury will be compensable. Another example would be if you travelled from home to home performing snow removal duties, and you were injured while using a snowblower.  In both examples, while you were not specifically on the premises of the employer, you were engaged in furthering the employer’s interests and considered to be working. Of course, there are some caveats to these generalities, and it is very important to understand that entitlement to benefits is fact-specific and there is no “one size fits all” answer to your entitlement. Thus, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss the facts of your case.   

What Can You Do to Be Prepared?  

  • Check the forecast the night before or morning of your shift to be aware of what the weather will be before, during, and after your shift.   
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help with job duties.  
  • Take breaks as needed.   
  • Wear warm clothing and proper footwear.  
  • Try to stay in the shade and out of the sun as much as possible.   
  • Try not to be alone in the cold.  
  • Listen to your body. Be sure to monitor how you feel and be aware of the symptoms of extreme cold exposure. 

Thus, it is imperative to ensure that as you prepare for the winter months and begin buying presents or putting up decorations, you know how to act in the unfortunate event that you may be injured. Always remember to report your work injury to a supervisor immediately even if you are uncertain about whether the injury is compensable.


If you or a loved one has been hurt at work, call Stern & Cohen at (215) 999-1443 or fill out a contact form below to get in contact with a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney.