Additional Risks to Construction Workers Posed by Winter Weather
Construction workers have one of the highest annual fatality rates among all workers in the US, and the risks that construction workers face on the job become even greater during winter months. Learn more below about the dangers that New Jersey construction workers face due to wintertime weather, and contact an experienced New Jersey construction worker injury lawyer if you’ve been hurt on the job.
Slip-and-fall risks are greater
Ice and snow make roads and walkways slipperier, increasing the chances that workers will fall and become injured on the job. For workers who work outdoors, there are more opportunities to make contact with snow- or ice-coated ground, and thus more opportunities for dangerous slip-and-fall accidents. For workers who must use a ladder, slippery surfaces lead to more risks that a ladder, if not properly supported, will slip or collapse. Employers should encourage their workers to wear boots with non-slip treads, provide regular clearance of ice and snow from walkways, and ensure that workers have the fall protection they need when using ladders on slippery surfaces.
Cold stress can cause permanent physical damage
Workers who spend prolonged periods outside can run the risk of suffering cold stress. Types of cold stress include:
Hypothermia: When a person’s internal temperature dips below 95˚, they are at risk of entering hypothermia. This is a potentially-fatal condition. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, confusion, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and slowed breathing.
Trench foot: This can occur when individuals are exposed to cold temperatures and wetness, causing a loss of circulation to the feet. Trench foot can result in death to skin and tissues in the feet. Workers should watch out for symptoms of trench foot, such as blistering, swelling, redness, and numbness, and remove any wet socks or boots and elevate their feet if these symptoms arise.
Frostbite: Skin and tissues that become frozen may be permanently damaged through frostbite. Symptoms of frostbite include red skin which develops patches of grey or white, numbness, blisters, aching, and skin that becomes firm. The extremities are especially vulnerable, including fingers, earlobes, toes, and noses.
Employers can help prevent cold stress by ensuring that workers are dressed sufficiently warmly for outdoor work, providing workers with warm drinks, offering rest areas with heaters where workers can take breaks if they become too cold, and assigning pairs of workers for each outdoor task so that the partners can monitor each other for symptoms of cold stress.
If you’ve been injured on a New Jersey construction site, find out whether you’re entitled to file a lawsuit for the costs of your injuries by contacting the experienced and effective construction worker injury lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a free consultation at 973-532-9681.