Construction goes on year-round, and each season has its hazards for workers. In winter, cold and icy conditions are the main threats, yet contractors are often more concerned with protecting their materials and building sites than their workers. When laboring in extreme cold, it is easy for construction workers to experience cold stress and frostbite, if working conditions and workers aren’t carefully monitored.
The first line of worker protection in winter involves monitoring the weather forecast and dressing appropriately, so that no one is taken by surprise in rapidly changing conditions. The following are additional ways to protect workers from the cold:
- Schedule work during the warmest times of day
- Provide a heated break area, such as a trailer
- Schedule warm-up breaks provided with water and hot food
- Schedule a work site review prior to the beginning of each work day, inspecting site conditions for snow, ice, and other related hazards
- Remove snow and ice before workers enter the site
- Pair up workers to keep an eye on each other for signs of cold-related issues while working
- Cover metal handles on equipment with thermal insulation
It is critical that workers are never in danger of developing hypothermia or frostbite due to worksite conditions. The contractor should always keep extra articles of warm clothing on hand for workers who are inadequately attired or get wet while working. Mandate that all workers wear proper winter attire, such as strong work boots, heavy coats, hats, and gloves. Encourage the wearing of layers, so that sweatshirts, or other articles, can be removed as temperatures fluctuate during the day.
In addition, workers should keep emergency kits in their vehicles. These kits should contain a warm blanket and extra hats and gloves, as well as nonperishable food items. Practical gear in these kits should include ice scrapers, shovels, flashlights, and similar cold weather necessities.
Make sure workers know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite to recognize symptoms in themselves and fellow employees. Signs and symptoms include excessive shivering, erratic behavior, speech slurring, a burning or tingling sensation in the skin, and changes in skin color and texture. Workers must also realize the importance of receiving immediate medical attention if these conditions are suspected.
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If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, contact the experienced Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law today. Call 215-426-4493 or complete our online form to set up a free initial consultation. Our office is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, serving clients throughout the area and South Jersey.