Winter weather comes with an added danger to workers who spend time outdoors. Even temperatures above freezing can expose workers to the risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and in extreme cases, death. Employers have a responsibility to provide their employees with a safe work environment that is free from unnecessary or known risks, including cold temperatures. The Allegheny County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. remind employers that proper safety training and equipment can save lives.
Safety training is essential to keeping employees safe in cold weather working conditions. All workers should be able to recognize conditions that are high risk. Attention to current weather conditions and predictions can ensure that workers wear appropriate clothing to protect their most vulnerable body parts. Fingers, toes, noses, chins, and foreheads are especially prone to frostbite and the effects of cold stress. Wearing waterproof and insulated gloves, socks, boots, and hats can help reduce the risk of injury to these body parts.
Workers who are trained to recognize the symptoms of cold stress can react quickly when they feel them or notice them on a coworker. Prompt response to removing a person from the cold elements and administering first aid can reduce the likelihood of permanent injury. Employers should monitor weather conditions and ensure that workers have equipment readily available to provide warmth and nutrition. Electric or gas-powered heaters, warm fluids such as broth or tea, dry clothing, and wind or rain protection are essential to keeping workers from becoming too cold or wet. Staggering work start times and end times can also help protect workers in extreme conditions. Starting work shifts later and ending them before the late afternoon sun goes down can make a big difference in temperatures.
Employers must also ensure that the work environment is safe. Icy walkways, scaffolding, and parking lots can result in dangerous slip, trips, and falls. Heavy machinery and trucks operating on icy roadways or construction sites can be hazardous to operators and ground workers. Clearing these areas and laying salt or other abrasive materials can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
Special consideration should be given to workers with chronic illness or disabilities. Those who suffer with hypertension, diabetes, or heart conditions can quickly deteriorate in extreme weather or cold temperatures. Workers with mobility issues can have an increased risk of falls resulting in serious injury. Staggering their work hours or providing them with frequent breaks can reduce their risk of injury. A worker who shows signs of cold stress is in an emergent situation. Shivering, slurred speech, clumsiness, and confusion are signs that employers should never ignore.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. The highly skilled Allegheny County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. are committed to helping clients claim the maximum benefits available. Call us at 412-765-1888 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are located Pittsburgh, and we serve clients throughout Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County, Pennsylvania.