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Winter weather-related construction injuries

Construction workers perform some of the most physically demanding and dangerous jobs there are. Not only must they be on their feet all day, operate dangerous machinery, pour concrete, and lay bricks, but all their work is usually done outdoors. In the wintertime, especially in freezing regions like New York, the workers’ regular exposure to cold, wind, and rain could lead to serious health problems if they aren’t addressed in time. 

Common cold-weather injuries and illnesses

The Center for Construction Research and Training identified three of the most common health risks posed to construction workers during the colder months: 

  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite
  • Trench foot  

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Your body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (when it is usually 98.6), and if you go without emergency medical attention, it will lead to respiratory and heart failure. The signs of hypothermia include shivering, weak pulse, slurred speech, loss of coordination, and very weak pulse. 

Frostbite can occur when your skin is exposed to extreme cold for too long, leading to the freezing of your skin and inner tissues. It usually occurs on your fingertips, nose, and ears, and the mild cases can be treated by gradual warming. Severe frostbite causes permanent skin damage and must be treated by a medical professional. 

Trench foot is usually associated with the horrific wartime conditions of WWI but can occur anytime your feet are overexposed to wet, unsanitary, cold conditions. Your feet may become red, tingly, itchy, and numb. Trench foot can be prevented by wearing dry, warm socks and insulated waterproof boots. 

Safety guidelines to protect outdoor workers

  • Weather-appropriate clothing must be required for construction crews working in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Assign employees to work in pairs so they can look out for each other and spot warning signs
  • Provide breaks in a warm, sheltered area so workers can reheat their bodies and dry off their clothing and footwear
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day when possible

If you have been injured on the job in the winter, contact the New York construction accident lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP  at (347) 318-9604 right away.


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