The cold weather does not keep many construction workers from doing their job, even when the temperature dips into the single digits and snow begins to fall. Working outdoors in winter weather comes with unique risks that require specific safety precautions to prevent serious weather-related injuries and fatalities.
Winter weather creates a host of potential safety hazards at the construction site. Some of those include:
- Disabled vehicles: Construction vehicles that are not properly maintained and weather-proofed can malfunction or break down altogether, putting workers at risk of being stranded in the cold.
- Downed wires and trees: Heavy snow and intense winds can knock down power lines and trees, leaving workers on the ground in danger of being injured or crushed.
- Exposure to the elements: Freezing temperatures cause workers’ body temperatures to drop, making them vulnerable to dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions, including frostbite and hypothermia.
- Poor visibility: Snow and high winds reduce construction workers’ visibility, which can be especially dangerous for job duties that require moving or utilizing large and heavy equipment with precision.
- Slippery surfaces: Ice-covered walkways, steps, ladders, and scaffolds lead to slip and fall accidents and broken bones, lacerations, along with head, neck, and spine injuries.
Preventing Winter Construction Injuries
Even in the winter months, construction work continues despite frigid temperatures and snowfall. Employers can take steps to protect their workers and prevent painful and debilitating cold weather accidents and injuries.
Before the cold weather months hit, construction owners, operators, and employees should prepare vehicles for the freezing winter temperatures. Systems should be in excellent condition and tires should not have excess wear and tear. Every vehicle should have an emergency kit on board stocked with water, blankets, and a flashlight, among other items.
Cold weather tools and supplies, like sand and ice scrapers, should be readily available even before the winter months arrive so construction workers are not left ill-prepared for an unexpected snowstorm. Stairs, ladders, and scaffolds designed for lower temperatures resist freezing and are ideal for construction use in the winter.
Every worker should have access to a warm, heated space and should be permitted frequent breaks to limit their exposure to the elements. Employees should be familiar with the signs of frostbite and hypothermia in themselves and others. Personal protection equipment that insulates against the cold but does not limit mobility or dexterity should be provided for all workers.
Finally, every employee should be healthy enough to work in lower temperatures. Research shows that colder temperatures increase blood pressure and potentially increase the risk of a heart attack. Individuals at risk for a heart attack should avoid shoveling or exerting themselves in frigid temperatures.
Atlantic City Construction Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Advocate for New Jersey’s Injured Workers
At the D’Amato Law Firm, our Atlantic City construction accident lawyers offer free consultations for new clients so we can learn more about your situation and recommend the next step for you. To schedule yours today, call 609-926-3300 or contact us online. Based in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we represent clients in and around southern New Jersey, and nationwide.