Howard Ankin argues that recent accident shows increased dangers of winter weather

A 22-year-old worker in Joliet lost his life on February 13 after getting pinned between two tractors. The man was working at CenterPoint Intermodal Center when the accident occurred. Howard Ankin, a workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago, cautioned that these types of accidents are more prevalent during winter months because tractors and other work vehicles may lack stability.

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Winter Tractor Accident infographic

According to reports, the worker was operating a tractor when it got caught in the snow. He got out of the tractor to try and get it free. At the same time, another tractor came over to try and push the stuck tractor forward.

The driver of the second tractor reportedly didn’t see the worker and pinned him against the first tractor. The injured worker was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

“There’s a reason why schools close during winter weather. It’s just not safe for the buses to operate,” explained Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin. “Companies that have outdoor workers operating vehicles should also consider closing for bad weather. When vehicles get stuck, accidents can happen. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a pretty serious one.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has started an investigation into the accident. It is too early to say who may be at fault for the accident or whether any safety regulations or guidelines were missed.

“Whether or not it’s written as a requirement, it’s just good common sense to use more caution in snow and ice,” argued Mr. Ankin. “That’s especially true when work vehicles are involved. If possible, don’t use the vehicles. If that’s not an option, implement a system to ensure that vehicles aren’t operating in close proximity to one another. Those kinds of steps can ensure that these tragic accidents don’t happen in the future.”

Mr. Ankin also stressed that winter-related hazards don’t just come from vehicles. “Slip-and-fall accidents are also more common during the winter,” he explained. “Employers have a duty to protect their employees from all hazards, including the elements.”

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