Earlier in January, we wrote about how to protect your home during a winter storm. In the post, we discussed how important it was to stay indoors as much as possible, given the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and other weather-related injuries or accidents. This risk was demonstrated recently with the presence of the polar vortex on the east coast, which confined a lot of businesses and individuals to indoor settings only. However, what about people who work outdoor jobs?
According to OSHA representative Mandy Edens, workers who must be outdoors in below zero weather conditions are at risk of injury or even death. A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its heat. Cold air, water and snow all draw heat from the body, increasing the risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot. So what are some preventative measures that you can encourage your construction staff to take if they must be outside in these conditions? Here are a few tips.
- Plan for work in cold weather. Avoiding alcohol, certain medications, and smoking can actually help minimize risks, as can wearing appropriate clothing.
- Wear at least three layers of clothing for work. An inner layer of wool, silk, or synthetic to wick moisture away from the body, a middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation when wet, and an outer wind and rain protection layer.
- Wear a hat or hood to help keep your whole body warmer. Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escape from your head.
- Wear insulated boots or other footwear.
- Keep extra clothing, including long underwear, handy in case you get wet and need to change.
- Do not underestimate the wetting effects of perspiration. Oftentimes, wicking and venting of the body’s sweat and heat are more important than protecting from rain or snow.
With the right training and planning, employers can keep their employees safe during winter work, and potentially even reduce the risk for Worker’s Comp claims. At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, our construction specialists work with clients of all kinds, and fully understand the diversity of this industry, from the independent contractor to the large building construction firm. Our Contractors Insurance policies include professional liability insurance, surety bonds, environmental liability, and more. Please contact us for more information at (877) 602-2305.