Feb 2015

Providence Workers & Winter Safety Risks

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyFor many workers throughout Coventry, Warwick, Providence and surrounding areas, the arrival of winter cold weather means a greater risk of injury or fatalities on-the-job.  Construction workers, sign installers and police officers are among the many professionals who often have to spend their workdays outdoors even during the bitter cold. A personal injury lawyer knows that these workers face the risk of frostbite, hypothermia and other health complications. It is up to employers to provide a safe working environment and adequate training so those who work outside during the winter will make it safely through the season.

Tips for Winter Work Safety

Safety News Alert published an ironic story illustrating the dangers of working outdoors. The story was about a news station called KRDO.

KRDO, concerned about winter workplace safety, sent out a news affiliate to speak with people who work outdoors. A reporter spoke with a sign installer and with someone who works in sanitation.  The purpose of the interview was discuss risks of winter outdoor work as well as to offer safety tips.

While KRDO affiliates were reporting safety advice, the station itself was reportedly under fire for not doing enough to train workers and protect them from frigid winter weather.  Amidst the criticism, a reporter went to report an unrelated late news live shot. He had no cameraman with him, since many TV stations don’t send camera people out anymore but instead expect reporters to handle the setup themselves now that cameras have gotten smaller.

The reporter wasn’t able to get his camera and tripod set up correctly without talking his gloves off. So, he did, in weather that was only 11 degrees. He suffered severe frostbite which necessitated hospitalization. It was fortunate that he did not end up losing any fingers.

TV news reporters and every other worker who does a job outside during winter needs to know some basic safety guidelines so they don’t get frostbite or suffer even worse health consequences. Safety BLR has some tips for how employees can stay safe when they work during the winter months. Employers should:

  • Be aware of both the early and late signs of hypothermia. Symptoms can include shivering and shaking, lost coordination, fatigue, disorientation and confusion. If you don’t get out of the cold and get warmed up right away when having these symptoms, then hypothermia will progressively cause worth symptoms. For example, later stage hypothermia can cause a slowed pulse, dilated pupils, slowed breathing, blue skin and possibly loss of consciousness. Eventually, someone can die of hypothermia.
  • Take frequent breaks to warm up when you are working outdoors. You may wish to ease into outdoor work carefully if you have not been working in frigid temperatures yet so your body has time to adjust.
  • Take care on slippery surfaces. Know that ice can be on parking lots and outdoor surfaces. Indoor spaces can also get slippery as people track water inside.

Workers can follow these tips to try to stay safe. Ultimately, employers need to provide training on winter weather safety and ensure that their workers are protected from injury due to the bitter cold.

Contact a Providence accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at 508-677-4900 or visit www.dgklaw.com to schedule your free consultation. Serving Coventry, Warwick, Providence.

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