Archive for December, 2023

Mastering Cold Weather: Keeping Workers Safe in Winter

Cold weather workplace injury blog

Work-related cold stress injuries can be severe.

Working outside in New England during the winter months can be dangerous, often resulting in work-related injuries due to extreme cold. That’s why it’s critical that employers take steps to keep workers safe during the winter to prevent work-related cold stress injuries.

“If there weren’t already enough hazards involved in working on a busy job site, winter weather makes a tough, physically demanding job even harder,” according to a recent Occupational Health & Safety magazine article about the dangers of working in cold weather. “Cold temperatures attack winter workers, stealing away body heat, risking their safety and productivity, and making it harder to pay attention.”

How does cold weather impact workers? What are the warning signs of work-related injuries due to extreme cold? Our workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Massachusetts and Rhode Island explain.

How common are cold-related work injuries?

Every year, workers sustain serious work-related injuries or fatalities due to working in the cold, especially employees who work outside the construction industry or other industrial settings. Specifically, weather-related conditions cause roughly 50 workplace fatalities each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Cold weather puts stress on workers because “the body must work harder to maintain its normal temperature,” according to Occupational Health and Safety magazine. Cold-related stress occurs if someone’s internal body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

How does cold weather cause injuries?

According to health and workplace safety officials interviewed by Occupational Health and Safety magazine, cold weather causes work-related injuries in five different ways:

  • Radiation – Cold temperatures take heat from the body through radiation or exposed skin, making workers feel cold faster.
  • Convection – Wind-related cold weather injuries due to a steady, cold breeze that takes warm air from the body beneath the skin.
  • Conduction – Injuries caused by skin coming into contact with much colder objects, especially metal tools or cold objects covered with ice.
  • Evaporation – Sweating is often caused by wearing insulated work clothes, which causes workers to lose heat due to evaporation and increases the likelihood of cold stress injuries.
  • Respiration – Breathing in cold air can put stress on workers’ bodies and lower their core body temperature, resulting in pain or making it difficult to concentrate while working.

Common cold-related work injuries

Work-related injuries caused by cold weather include:

  • Hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature, which can affect a person’s brain activity and ability to move)
  • Frostbite (damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold)
  • Trench foot (foot-related injury due to exposure to extreme cold and damp, sometimes unsanitary conditions)
  • Chilblains (inflammation of the skin, swollen patches, and blistering of the skin, often on the hands and feet, due to cold, damp air)

Warning signs of cold-related work injuries

Different cold-related work injuries have different symptoms. But some of the most common warning signs that someone might be too cold at work include:

  • Shivering
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness in body
  • White patches on the skin
  • Difficulty concentration
  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty speaking

Ways to keep workers safe in the cold

Employers should take steps to prevent workers from being injured at work due to extreme cold. Such preventative measures include:

  • Provide workers exposed to the cold as part of their work with insulated clothing.
  • Conduct workplace inspections to ensure employees working outside in extreme cold do not have any exposed skin.
  • Ensure workers get enough to eat and drink while working in extreme cold.
  • Provide training to workers on how to work outside in extreme cold.

Seeking legal help after a work injury

Work-related injuries caused by working in the cold are common in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where winter weather can be harsh. If you sustain a work-related injury due to cold winter weather, you should be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, obtaining the benefits you deserve can prove to be challenging.

Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl are here to help you obtain the benefits you deserve. We know what to do because we have years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney focused on helping you move forward after a work injury.

Safety Tips for Delivery Drivers to Avoid Work Injuries

Delivery Truck Driver Injury Blog

Delivery truck drivers face risks every day on the road throughout the year. This is why it’s important for drivers and employers to do everything they can to keep delivery drivers safe and to avoid a work-related injury. So what should drivers and employers do to avoid a workplace injury? Our workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Rhode Island and Massachusetts explain.

Delivery driver injury factors

Delivery drivers encounter various work-related injury risks due to the nature of their job. Some of the primary causes of injuries among delivery drivers are a result of:

  • Lifting and carrying heavy packages: Transporting and handling heavy parcels can lead to strains, sprains, and back injuries. Proper lifting techniques and seeking assistance for bulky items are vital measures for driver safety.
  • Extended periods of sitting: Spending prolonged hours seated inside delivery vehicles can result in musculoskeletal problems, such as back pain and stiffness. Regular breaks and incorporating stretching exercises are essential for mitigating these concerns.
  • Slip and falls: Slip and fall incidents may occur while navigating diverse terrains and weather conditions during deliveries. These accidents can cause sprained ankles, fractures, and other injuries. Wearing suitable footwear and adopting cautious movements help reduce slip and fall risks.
  • Repetitive movements: Engaging in repetitive actions, like bending, lifting, or driving for extended durations, can lead to overuse injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injuries. Adhering to proper ergonomics and taking regular breaks can alleviate these potential risks.
  • Handling hazardous objects: Delivery drivers often encounter packages containing sharp objects or dangerous materials. Accidental cuts or injuries can result from handling these items. Wearing protective gloves and exercising caution during package handling can minimize such incidents.
  • Traffic accidents: Delivery drivers face significant risks of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. These accidents can result in various injuries, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe trauma. Practicing defensive driving, adhering to traffic regulations, and ensuring regular vehicle maintenance are crucial steps to mitigate this risk.

Safety tips for delivery drivers

Delivery drivers can take several steps in an effort to avoid a work-related injury during the holidays. Such safety tips include:

  • Park delivery truck on level ground.
  • Make sure the delivery truck is clearly visible and hazard lights are on when parking vehicle, especially in the dark.
  • Don’t jump out of your vehicle while holding heavy packages.
  • Wear shoes with good traction.
  • Use a headlamp or flashlight if you’re delivering packages in the dark.
  • Do not carry more than one box if any boxes are extremely heavy. Take multiple trips if necessary.

How employers can help delivery drivers

Delivery drivers aren’t the only ones who should take additional steps to avoid a work-related injury. Delivery companies need to do their part as well to keep drivers safe and injury-free. Some of the things delivery companies can do to help keep delivery truck drivers safe include:

  • Make sure all drivers are properly trained, especially when it comes to knowing how to safely lift heavy packages or drive safely at night.
  • Provide delivery truck drivers with reflective clothing and flashlights, especially since many drivers have to walk from their truck to someone’s house in the dark.
  • Make sure delivery truck drivers have back support or other personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to prevent back injuries due to lifting heavy objects.
  • Report all work-related injuries right away to the proper state authority so injured workers can receive workers’ compensation and other important benefits right away.

Contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney

When delivery drivers get hurt on the job in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, they are often eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which can provide compensation for medical care and replacement income if an injured worker needs time off to rest and recover.

However, getting these benefits can be challenging. That’s why our workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl are here to help. Our attorneys have years of experience helping injured workers receive the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Learn more about your legal options. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation attorney you can count on when you’ve been injured on the job. We can review your case, explain your potential legal options, and get right to work on your claim.