How Weather Can Affect Your Chance of a Work Injury

Your risk for a work injury could depend on the weather outside and how well you prepare for it.

There are many different things that can lead to a work injury. Inattention, poor training and poor maintenance are just a few of the ways that a person can get hurt on the job; however, another factor that can cause a work injury is the weather.

Properly preparing for weather changes - by both employers and works - can help lessen the risk of a work injury.

Cold Weather Work Injuries

While we might not be able to control Mother Nature, we can control the way that we respond to it. Too often, employers don't take enough care to make sure that a work space is safe for employees in cold weather.

Injuries from falls are far more common in the winter than they are in the summer. Icy sidewalks can pose a danger for slip and falls that result in broken bones, head trauma and other serious injuries.

Common Cold Weather Work Dangers

Besides falls, there are a number of ways that falling temperatures can pose a problem for employees. If an employer requires an employee to drive on an icy day, the result can be a devastating crash. Failing to see that employees wear proper clothing or keeping them outside for prolonged periods in freezing temperatures can be problematic. Even falling icicles can bring about a cold-weather work injury.

In too many cases, an employer could have taken care to prevent a workplace injury. In fact, many locations require business owners to keep their public sidewalks clear of ice and snow. When an employer doesn't take steps to prevent employee injuries, the result can be disastrous for the employee.

Negligence and Cold Temperatures

An employer must take reasonable steps to keep a work environment safe for their employees. They must try to address all of the dangers on their property and take precautions to prevent a personal injury. When a business owner fails to take reasonable precautions or safety, they acted negligently. That means they failed to do what a reasonable person should do, meaning you have a right to recover for your damages if you suffer an injury.

Preventing Winter Injuries

There are a number of things an employer should do to prevent injuries because of cold temperatures. For starters, employers should make sure that employees wear the proper footwear with treading for cold weather, and an employee should be able to change into dry clothes whenever it's appropriate.

An employer should also take time to salt and sand walkways, and use signs to steer workers around hazards. Proper lighting is another important consideration, and workers may need modified schedules when cold temperatures, snow or ice make it too cold to go outside or too dangerous to travel.

Work Injuries and Heat

Conversely, high temperatures can also bring increased risk to employees for work injuries. The heat can make a workplace more dangerous in ways that you might not expect. For example, the heat can make a pair of safety goggles foggy, which makes it more dangerous to operate machinery or detect moving hazards. Sweat might make a person's hands slip in a way that causes machinery to malfunction.

Overheating and heat stroke are other common high-temperature work injuries. This doesn't just affect people who work outside; it can affect anyone who works in a hot environment such as bakers, industrialists or chefs. Heat stroke is a serious problem that can cause dizziness and can even be life threatening.

Preventing Heat-Related Injuries

Heat-related injuries are often preventable. An employer should make sure that each workspace has proper ventilation. Employees can work shorter shifts until the heat subsides or until workers can adjust. Adding additional workers can make the work less physically demanding for each person.

An employer should offer water breaks, and employees should be permitted to spend time in a cool room or shaded area provided by the employer. Employers may also consider changing dress code requirements so that employee clothing is more appropriate.

When an employer doesn't take reasonable steps to protect employees, they can face liability when an employee suffers a workplace injury.

What To Do if You're Injured at Work

If you're hurt on the job, your employer can't just blame Mother Nature. The court looks at the entire circumstances of the case to determine if the employer acted reasonably. That means considering the weather conditions at the time of your personal injury. If they failed to take reasonable steps to keep you safe, they may owe you for your damages if you get hurt.

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, Colorado workers’ compensation attorneys at the Babcock Law Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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