It’s cold outside. Really cold. For those who have to work outside in the elements, the cold can be more than just a nuisance. It can be deadly. Winter 2018 is expected to be one of the coldest in years. Even so, some people have no choice but to brave the elements. Many construction workers, for example, work outside year round, even during New England’s harshest winters.
Tips for Keeping Construction Employees and Contractors Safe When it’s Cold
If your employees work outside for extended periods during winter months, what can you do to protect their health and safety, and reduce your liability? The tips below can help.
- When temperatures are extreme, limit outside work schedules so that workers are in the elements for shorter periods of time. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on the job.
- Require workers to wear proper gear at all times. If they don’t have their own gear, supply it. Every worker should be equipped with a heavy coat, boots, gloves, and a hat. Gear should be water resistant, and shoes should have nonslip soles to prevent slipping on snow or ice.
- Watch weather forecasts. If a blizzard is on the horizon, working outside could be dangerous. Even driving to and from the job site could put workers at unnecessary risk. If heavy snowfall and ice are in the forecast, consider taking the day off.
- Ensure that workers have access to a warm area for breaks. When the weather outside is frightful, workers need a place to escape from the elements and warm themselves. A heated trailer or tent can do the trick.
- Tell workers to limit their coffee intake. Although a cup of hot coffee might seem like the perfect winter warmer, caffeine can increase the heart rate, making someone feel warmer than they actually are. That being said, fluids are important when it’s cold outside. Workers should drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Inspect the work site before work begins, every Snow and ice accumulation and downed power lines can occur during the night, and pose serious risks to workers. Before work begins each morning, make sure that no hazards developed during the night.
- Address any hazards. If snow and ice accumulated during the night, it should be removed or addressed before work begins. If it cannot be removed, sand or kitty litter should be put down to increase traction. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work.
- Work vehicles should be inspected at the start of the winter season. Ensure that each vehicle is in proper working order and that it is equipped with an emergency kit, including ice scraper, shovel, flashlight, emergency flares, tow chain, a blanket, sand or kitty litter, water, and snacks.
- Train workers on what to do if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident or become stranded, both of which present added consequences during extreme weather.
- Ensure that workers are trained on first aid, and how to recognize signs of hypothermia and frostbite.