In certain jobs, occupational hazards are not consistent throughout the year, with weather changes contributing to heightened risk factors during certain months. The ice, rain and snow that characterize New Jersey winters and the temperature dips that accompany this precipitation can create a dangerous mix for those whose positions require them to spend prolonged periods of time exposed to the elements. Lest one underestimate the dangers of cold weather, over the course of a 12-year period, almost 17,000 people lost their lives in the United States because of exposure to excessive natural cold.
Cold and freezing environments present a number of dangers
Workers who endure prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures are at risk of a number of serious health problems that may have a lasting effect. Workers who suffer from trench foot and frostbite may experience severe tissue damage and may even lose layers of skin. Hypothermia may present an even more serious hazard, leading to disorientation, loss of consciousness, and in some cases, even death.
Taking steps to protect workers from the cold
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes the risks posed by winter outdoor work in northern climes and recommends that employers take a number of important steps to protect their workers. Specifically, OSHA recommends that employers provide training to workers regarding cold-induced injuries and illness, enforce frequent short breaks in dry, warm structures and require employees to work in pairs so that danger signs are recognized by others. OSHA also warns employers that there are even greater risks for workers who take certain medications, who suffer from diabetes or other diseases, or who are in less-than-optimal physical condition.
Employees should not have to pay for job-related injuries
When cold-induced injuries or any other workplace maladies affect workers, employees should not bear the brunt of their conditions. To that end, the workers’ comp system is in place to ensure that unfortunate accidents and injuries don’t hobble a worker’s ability to carry on. If you have been harmed on the job, call on the workers’ comp lawyers at Hoffman DiMuzio.