Weather conditions during the winter months can require more preparation for construction workers than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, workplace accidents can and do happen and being ready for the unexpected before it happens is an essential component of accident prevention. Though harsh winter weather conditions in Texas don’t always happen, it’s important to know how to handle a potential winter weather workplace accident when it occurs.
In Texas, workplace hazards usually don’t revolve around the winter weather. However, there is still a chance for incredibly cold temperatures to surprise those who are more adept to a warmer climate. With this in mind, construction workers and their employers should keep safety in mind. Companies and employers must initiate and reinforce safety protocols while also clearly stating safety responsibilities and expectations.
Winter Weather Accidents
Unfortunately, accidents that occur at a jobsite happen nearly everyday and the winter months can be particularly cumbersome. Having a better understanding as to why these winter weather accidents occur and how they can be prevented can help keep workers safe on the job. Common winter weather workplace accidents include:
Vehicle and machinery crashes on icy roads
Many workers drive or operate machinery on roadways as a part of their jobs. When roadways are icy and slick, they pose an increased accident risk. Workers should be properly trained in driving the vehicles they are licensed to operate on icy roads. Vehicles and machinery should be regularly inspected to ensure they are safe to use during the colder months. Keeping a windshield ice scraper, snowbrush, and flashlight on hand can help.
Construction workers also have the potential to be struck by motor vehicles when working on a jobsite in icy weather conditions. Drivers may skid or lose control of their vehicles more easily when the roads are slick. Ensuring the work zone is properly set up can help to protect workers from being hit by a vehicle during icy conditions.
Slips and falls
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slips and falls accounted for 34,190 injuries in 2018. Though slip and falls can happen year-round, ice and the potential for snow create a more hazardous environment that ultimately increases the risk of worker injuries. Ice can build up and freeze over on ramps, walkways, scaffolding, ladders, stairs, and even the sidewalk, creating a fall risk.
The risk of cold stress is another factor at play when temperatures drop. Cold stress occurs when the body’s temperature is driven down to a point where it is unable to warm itself. This can result in serious winter weather related illnesses and injuries, such as frostbite, hypothermia, and trench foot, all of which can cause permanent tissue damage.
Ensuring workers are properly dressed and prepared for cold temperatures can help. Dressing improperly, wearing wet clothing, or having wet skin can greatly increase a worker’s chances of suffering a winter weather workplace accident.
Hypothermia occurs when normal body temperature drops from 98.6 to 95 or less. This can result in symptoms such as constant shivering; however, shivering can stop as symptoms worsen and can be followed by drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, slowed heart rate, loss of consciousness, or even death.
Frostbite causes the body’s tissue to freeze and most commonly affects the hands and feet. Frostbite is especially concerning, as it can occur in above freezing temperatures due to wind chill. If a worker has frostbite, they could experience cold, numb skin, blisters and swelling, and joint or muscle stiffness. Frostbite comes with a serious risk of limb amputation.
Trench foot is a non-freezing foot injury caused by lengthy exposure to wet and cold environments. Trench foot can occur in temperatures as high as 60 degrees if the feet are consistently wet, resulting in redness, swelling, blisters, and numbness.
Texas Construction Accident Attorney
While a construction accident can happen at any time of year, the winter months can bring unexpected weather events, including ice and snow. If you or someone you know was injured on the job, the trial attorneys at Liggett Law Group can help. We have a thorough knowledge of state and federal laws and regulations that govern construction jobsites, we will protect your ability to recover from injury, and we will help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.