Cold weather brings many risks to the workplace. It is everyone’s job, both employer and employee, to ensure all are protected from the elements. Common injuries could result from slips, falls and trips, as well as not being adequately protected from cold temperatures.

Slips, Falls And Trips

There are numerous countermeasures to take when it comes to preventing injuries from slips, falls and trips. The primary source for these injuries is snow and ice that comes with the winter seasons. These weather conditions affect both the areas that have the ice and snow, as well as places it gets tracked in to. Here are a few ways you can prevent these injuries in the workplace:

  • Avoid Carrying Too Much – While true in other instances, this is especially true during the winter season. If you must contend with slippery conditions, it is best to not add to your burden.

  • Remove Snow From Sidewalks And Water Off Floors – It can be challenging to keep up with heavy snowfall. However, especially once the snowfall subsides, clean off the walkways immediately with proper snow removal followed by salt to prevent freezing. Even with these preventative measures in place, people will still track in snow from their shoes, leaving puddles of slippery melted snow in the area they walked. Mopping these areas and placing slipping hazard signs is required to remove this obstacle.

  • Mark Hazardous Areas – Using barricades, cones, and temporary signs to warn passing workers of places where snow or ice has not been treated can deter any potential accidents.

Overexposure To The Elements

The cold can sneak up on anyone who is underprepared. Conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia have warning signs long before the dangerous effects take place:

  • Hypothermia – This occurs when the body loses heat faster than the body can produce it, which causes dangerously low body temperatures. Signs that you are experiencing the early stages of hypothermia include drowsiness or confusion, lack of coordination, shivering or shaking, and slurred speech. Removing any wet clothing and finding a way to get your body warm, drinking warm liquids or wrapping yourself in blankets can help to fix this condition. Seeking medical treatment for prolonged symptoms is advised.

  • Frostbite – This occurs when skin is exposed to cold conditions and begins to freeze. While mild cases can be treated by gradually warming the area, more severe cases require medical treatment. Signs that you are experiencing frostbite include blisters or swelling, joint or muscle stiffness, and skin becoming numb than turning hard and pale.

When in doubt, always bundle up. Putting on an additional layer to your clothes is never a bad idea. Employers should be cognizant of how long an employee will be outside and make sure they are appropriately dressed for the outdoors. Employees should never be apprehensive about asking their employer for extra gear if they lack it. Only with the combined awareness of the employer and employee will common winter-based injuries be reduced.

Contact An Experienced Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today!

If you or a loved one were injured while on the job, you should contact a knowledgeable Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost income, among other losses. Contact us anytime toll-free at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form online for a free (no obligation) case evaluation.

Author Photo

Paul d’Oliveira

Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 30 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 15 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

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