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Protecting construction workers during the winter

For the men and women who work outdoors in Illinois, the winter months can be brutal. Between the frigid temperatures and the wind, the conditions can be rough, and in some circumstances, they can be quite dangerous. It is especially important for construction workers to know how to stay safe while working outdoors and for employers to protect them from harm as much as possible.

Cold stress is a term used to describe the negative health effects that working in extreme cold can have on a person. Since construction is mostly outdoors, these employees should have the training they need to know how to stay safe and recognize when something is wrong. The impact of cold stress can be significant and serious, and, in some extreme cases, even fatal.

Safety should go up when temperatures go down

Like extremely hot temperatures, cold temperatures can cause harm to the body. This is especially likely when it is windy or when a person is working outdoors in damp conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released guidelines for employers to follow to keep outdoor workers as safe as possible in the cold-weather months.

The dangers of cold stress are preventable, but it takes training, preparation and even certain types of equipment. Employees should receive training that help them recognize signs of cold stress in themselves and other workers. They should also wear warm clothing, take regular breaks and even have heaters set up, when possible. Some of the most common health conditions that develop as a result of cold stress include the following: 

  • Trench foot
  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite

Prevention is key, and employers are responsible for knowing the guidelines provided by OSHA and implementing them in an effective and reasonable manner. If you are a construction worker, you are entitled to a reasonable expectation to personal safety, even in the winter. 

Are you a victim of cold stress?

If you are suffering the ramifications of cold stress because of your job in construction, you have the right to seek support through a workers’ compensation claim. You can secure what you need for medical care, recovery of a portion of your lost wages and even help getting back to work when you are ready. After an accident or the onset of a job-related health condition, you may want to speak to a lawyer about your legal options regarding benefits.