As you know, portions of our state were recently slammed with a snowstorm. As much as 9 inches of snow was dumped in areas of West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina, according to the Los Angeles Times. The storm left the coast midweek, leaving storm clean-up and power crews to deal with the mess -- as well as the risks associated with working in these dangerous conditions.
With the conditions that were left by the snow storm, workers are facing increased risks for work-related accidents, injuries and illnesses. Power workers are in charge of cleaning up downed power lines and storm cleanup workers in charge of getting the debris cleaned up and the roadways back in working order. With the icy conditions, workers are facing risks for some serious winter-related work injuries in North Carolina.
Our North Carolina workers compensation lawyers understand that employees who work in winter storm cleanup efforts run the risk of experiencing frostbite, hypothermia, wind chill, being electrocuted by downed power lines, being crushed by collapsing structures and transportation-related accidents. Luckily, there are simple steps that employers and employees can take to help to reduce these risks. Employers and employees are asked to keep an eye on one another when working in these dangerous conditions to make sure that everyone is safe. Safe work practices are a group effort.
Dangers associated with working in winter storms, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
-Traffic accidents because of slippery roadways.
-Slips and falls because of slick walkways.
-Carbon monoxide poisoning.
-Frostbite, hypothermia and other cold weather exposure-related illnesses and injuries.
-Being hit by a falling object, including utility poles, tree limbs and icicles.
-Electrocution from downed power lines.
-Falls from heights.
-Burns from fires and active power lines.
-Back injuries from clearing snow.
Frostbite and hypothermia may be one of the most common injuries experienced in these types of winter work scenarios, but luckily there are simple steps that you can take to reduce the risks.
How to avoid hypothermia and frostbite:
-Eat warm and high-calorie foods, like pasta.
-Drink warm water. Sweet drinks are the best, like sport-type drinks or sugar water. You want to avoid drinks with caffeine during this time.
-Always use the buddy system so you can keep an eye on one other. Never venture out by yourself.
-Avoid overworking yourself. Energy is needed to keep your muscles loose and warm.
-Work during the warmest time of the day.
-Take frequent breaks in warm areas to let the body warm itself up.
-Layer your clothing to help yourself adjust to the changing temps. Peel off layers as the temps warm up.
-Make sure employees are trained to recognize and deal with cold-induced injuries and illnesses.
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