Cold Weather Presents Risks for Carolina Work Injuries

The recent cold snap brings to mind accidents and injuries that can be caused by winter weather, as well as the responsibilities of employers and the rights of employees when it comes to winter work accidents in Charlotte and throughout the Carolinas.

You don’t have to be in Alaska to be at risk of serious or fatal work accidents caused by winter weather. In fact, workers in warmer climates may be more at risk — because they are less able to deal with the cold, because they have less experience dealing with the risks, and because they work for companies or in facilities that lack the proper knowledge and equipment to deal with snow, ice, wind and freezing temperatures. Already this year, as far south as Naples Florida, emergency shelters have been opened to deal with temperatures that have dipped into the 40s. 1365132_winter_tree.jpg

Our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys understand that knowledge is the first step toward a safe workplace:

Top causes of work accident in winter weather include:

-Transportation accidents -Fall Accidents -Carbon Monoxide poisoning -Frostbite, hypothermia, dehydration -Snow removal injuries, including heart attack and back injuries -Electrocution from downed power lines.
-Injuries associated with collapsing roofs and other structures under the weight of ice and snow.
-Injuries caused by falling ice and snow.
-Machine injuries, including lacerations and amputations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cold stress is a leading cause of injuries in the winter months, including hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot and chiblains. Some of these conditions can occur in wet conditions with temperatures as warm as 60 degrees.

To help prevent Carolina employee injuries, employers should:

-Schedule outdoor maintenance tasks for warmer months or warmer parts of the day.

-Allow for plenty of breaks in a warm area.

-Provide plenty of liquid and looks for signs of dehydration or fatigue.

-Reduce workload.

-Provide cold-stress training that emphasizes risks, prevention, symptoms, treatment, co-monitoring and the importance of protective equipment.

For their part, an employee can help reduce risks by wearing loose, layered clothing that provides for various degrees of warmth without restricting movement or blood flow; and by wearing appropriate boots, gloves, hats and other protective gear. Keep a close eye on co-workers, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of liquids.

And it’s not just those who are outside who are at risk. Workers are also at risk in metal fabricated buildings and other facilities that lack proper insulation. Carbon monoxide poisoning is another risk factor. Heating equipment should be properly serviced and inspected. Extra caution should be used when utilizing temporary heating devices such as kerosene heaters.

Thermometers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed, tested and maintained in proper working order. By utilizing the proper equipment, ensuring that employees have the proper training, and wearing the proper attire, we can all stay safe this winter and reduce our risk of suffering an accident related to cold winter weather. Please do your part to keep the workplace safe this winter!

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident on the job, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:
North Carolina Reports One of Lowest Work Accident Rates Nationwide, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, November 25, 2011.

North Carolina Welders Exposed to Hexavalent Chromium at Risk of Nose, Throat and Lung Damage, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 20, 2011.

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