Cold Weather work is not typically associated with Florida, especially South Florida. However, North Florida and even Mid Florida can experience temperature drops which need to be concerning for all outdoor workers.
The season, Fall, is in full force in some parts of the country, and winter is on its way. Cooler temperatures can also mean danger for some workers who stay outside for hours at a time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that for 2017, 20,400 workers were injured due to freezing temperatures, snow, sleet, and ice. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claims that 20% of all work-related injuries involve slips, trips, and falls.
Some employees, such as construction and utility workers, have to be outside all year long regardless of the weather. The most common cold-related workers’ compensation issues include:
Cold Stress Illness
When the human body is exposed to the cold for long periods of time, it slows the flow of blood to the extremities to keep the organs warm. Therefore, your hands, feet, toes, and fingers remain cold and are at risk of various illnesses such as frostbite, hypothermia, chilblains, frostnip, and trench foot (also known as immersion foot).
Road conditions worsen in the winter with snow, freezing rain, and ice covering every surface. Slush can be very dangerous to drivers. Almost one-quarter of all driving accidents occur because of weather conditions. Icy roads in winter can be deadly.
Back Injuries Due to Shoveling or Snow Blowing
Shoveling heavy snow and using snow blowers and other unwieldly equipment can also result in muscle injuries, cuts, bruises, lacerations, amputations, broken bones, and a strained back.
Strains, Sprains, and Fractures
The most common workers’ compensation issues during cold months include sprains, strains, and fractures. Slips and falls are typically the reason for these injuries.
Falls from Roofs
Keeping snow and ice off roofs may be crucial during the winter but it also poses a real danger to outside workers. Workers who fall from a slippery roof could be seriously injured or even die.
Ways to Stay Safe
The best way to stay safe is by using common sense before heading outside. Some valuable tips for workers to stay safe in cold weather are:
· Dress warmly and use protective gear when outside (insulated gloves, coats, hats, goggles, warm socks, etc.).
· Take breaks and go inside to get warm to avoid frostbite and other cold-related issues. Drink a warm beverage which heats you up from the inside.
· Watch the weather forecast and plan ahead.
· When driving in winter, slow your speed and be extra careful of ice, snowy, and slushy roads.
· Use safety harnesses and scaffolding when up on high roofs to avoid falls.
Where to Turn After a Cold Weather Workers’ Compensation Issue
If your employer failed to provide proper protective equipment, wouldn’t allow you to take breaks to get warm or forced you to work in unsafe cold-weather conditions, and you were injured or fell ill, you most likely have a valid workers’ compensation claim. Should you be denied your benefits, contact a reputable workers’ compensation attorney for help.