Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
With winter fast approaching, people should expect low temperatures and snow in Ohio. With temps often hovering in the 30s and 40s throughout the season, residents have to deal with snow, rain, sleet, and hail. These winter weather conditions increase the risk of accidents and work injuries for everyone, particularly workers who are required to complete tasks outside or in open-air facilities.
Employers and workers need to be aware of common winter work injuries to avoid accidents, days off work, and permanent disabilities. If an accident occurs, employees should call the Ohio work injury lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick as soon as possible at 1-800-HURT-NOW. They are available to help employees gain the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled.
5 Common Winter Work Injuries
With low temperatures, strong winds, and precipitation, workers often have to battle the elements while performing their job duties. Their normal risk of injury is heightened and new hazards come into play. Employers and workers should be aware that winter weather increases the risk of certain work-related injuries, including:
1. Slip and Falls
The rain, snow, and sleet that fall throughout the winter months make almost every surface slippery. When temperatures drop after a fresh snowfall or rain, the water turns to ice, making conditions even more dangerous. Workers should be extra careful both outdoors and inside where water may have been tracked in to avoid slipping.
Preventing slips and falls: Employers can help their workers stay safe by ensuring proper snow removal and putting down salt or sand where employees must walk or work. Additionally, putting mats or rugs in doorways can greatly reduce the risk of slipping on tile. Workers should wear the proper footwear for weather, such as non-slip boots.
2. Back Injuries
With winter weather comes a great deal of shoveling and putting out salt, sand, or ice melt. This means heavy lifting and sometimes awkward movements. Shoveling and lifting heavy bags can strain a person’s back muscles or lead to disc issues.
Preventing back injuries: Whenever possible, workers should use snow blowers to remove snow. However, if shoveling is the only option, workers should be sure to move small sections at a time and lift with their legs. Additionally, workers should use a smaller container to move salt, sand, and ice melt to the necessary areas instead of carrying heavy bags.
3. Frostnip and frostbite
Frostnip is the first stage of frostbite, which usually does not cause permanent damage if noticed and treated. The area that is exposed to the cold and wind may start to feel numb or prickly. It can hurt when the skin is slowly warmed up. Superficial and severe frostbite are when the skin and underlying tissues freeze and can result in long-term or permanent injury. Signs of frostbite include cold skin, a prickling finger, numbness, hard or waxy-looking skin, discolored skin, and stiffness in muscles or joints. If someone suffers from severe frostbite, the tissue may turn black after being warmed and die.
Preventing frostbite: Frostnip and frostbite are common on hands, feet, ears and the face. All workers should wear the proper winter weather gear including heavy socks, boots, gloves, scarf, hat, or ear muffs. When temperatures are extremely low, workers should reduce the amount of time they spend outside. This may mean taking more frequent breaks indoors and warming up. Additionally, employers should supply heaters whenever possible.
Hypothermia occurs when the body losses too much heat due to a cold environment. A normal body is around 98 to 99 degrees. Any body temperature below 95 degrees results in hypothermia, which can cause a person’s nervous system, heart, and other organs to work improperly or fail resulting in death. Signs of mild hypothermia include shivering, nausea or hunger, faster breathing, confusion, lack of coordination, feeling tired, and a rapid heart rate. When severe hypothermia hits, shivering stops and the person will be clumsy, have slurred speech, be confused and drowsy, have a weak pulse and shallow breathing, and will lose consciousness.
Preventing hypothermia: The best way for employers and workers to prevent hypothermia is to ensure all workers are property dressed for the elements, do not spend much time outside or in unheated areas, and are never submerged in cold water. Workers who must be outside should take breaks in heated areas frequently.
5. Vehicle accidents
Many professions require workers to drive to clients, suppliers, and work sites. Unfortunately, winter weather often creates hazardous driving conditions, including slick roads and poor visibility. These conditions can lead to accidents with work vehicles that lead to worker injuries and fatalities.
Preventing vehicle accidents: It is possible to reduce the risk of collisions by winterizing work vehicles, clearing snow from work sites, and reducing how much employees need to drive when conditions are poor. Employers should ensure all work vehicles are maintained before winter hits and include a safety kit inside. It may also be a good idea to equip the vehicles with winter tires or chains.
Contact an Ohio Work Injury Lawyer for Help
When workers are hurt on the job, they must notify their employers right away and turn to their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance for help. However, the claims process can be difficult and the rules and benefits of the workers’ comp system are hard to decipher. The Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys of Kisling, Nestico & Redick have decades of combined experience helping employees receive the benefits they need to get well and support their families.
Call us today at 1-800-HURT-NOW or contact us online to schedule a consultation.