Construction work is known for its inherent dangers: trips, slips, and falls, not to mention a variety of other construction accidents. Once cold temperatures arrive and snow and ice become part of the picture, construction site hazards are severely amplified.
In the upper northeast, winter conditions are often extreme, which means workers in New York and New Jersey are at especially high risk for life-changing accidents.
I’ll tell you more about what to look out for this winter below, and let you know what to do in the unfortunate case that you sustain injuries in an accident. The New Jersey construction accident attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates have been protecting the rights of construction industry workers for decades; if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free case review at 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Slips and Falls
Slips and falls on construction sites in winter are far too common. Slick conditions exist everywhere on winter construction sites. If you take a spill, the resulting injuries can range from mild bruises and scratches to broken limbs, painful cracked ribs, and life-threatening spinal injuries and head trauma.
Even indoor construction sites are not immune to the dangers of snow and ice. When precipitation is tracked in, slippery entryways and floors are common.
It is essential for construction site managers to ensure that working conditions are free of snow, ice, and water, and that workers are not working in situations where dangerous conditions cannot be managed. Otherwise they may be held liable.
Helpful tips for preventing slips and falls
- Call on your employer to frequently evaluate all work spaces including scaffolding, ladders, and elsewhere for dangerous snow and ice. Ask that they take measures to remove it.
- Make sure your employer frequently evaluates indoor areas and mops up wet patches.
- Request that your employer provide necessary safety gear such as non-slip winter boots and instructions on how to dress to stay warm during winter.
- Ensure that you are trained on how to safely move on frozen surfaces, including how to walk using short steps.
Cold Weather Injuries
While we often think of slips and falls as the prime injury-causing incidents on construction sites, there are a variety of illnesses and serious injuries that emerge directly from cold exposure itself.
Chilblains and frostbite which damage blood vessels can sometimes be permanent, causing pain and redness on a long-term basis. Trench foot is another serious issue that can arise when temperatures dip below freezing and limbs cannot retain warmth. In severe cases, trench foot can result in gangrene and potentially the need for amputation.
Hypothermia is another serious hazard winter construction workers face. When you are in the cold for too long, your body temperature can drop so far that it impacts not only your skin, but even essential processes like brain function. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook hypothermia until severe damage has been done.
How to prevent cold weather illnesses
- If you notice that you or a co-worker is experiencing symptoms of hypothermia such as blue lips and extreme shaking, it is an emergency medical situation. Call 911, remove wet clothing, and bundle up in dry blankets or towels. Warm beverages can also help increase body temperature safely.
- Ask employers for proper winter clothing: warm boots, sturdy gloves, and body heat-retaining clothing are essential
- Ask for sufficient warmup breaks in extreme cold situations
Safe Driving on Construction Site Roads
Some construction work involves driving heavy, dangerous machinery. Cranes, bulldozers, and other vehicles can become even more challenging to maneuver on muddy or icy areas. Even if you are driving at safe speeds, accidents can happen.
To prevent driving injuries:
- Drive at safe speeds
- Ensure that employers train employees on how to safely drive on wet, icy, or snowy roadways.
- Make sure your employer inspects vehicles regularly and that brakes, steering, and lights are in good condition for winter weather.
- Ensure the use of caution items like cones, signs, and barriers for dangerous areas.
Do you need an attorney?
Preparing for the winter season is an essential part of safely overseeing a construction site. Supervisors are legally required to take precautions to keep employees safe. If you have been injured and are concerned that your supervisor was negligent, or did not utilize a sufficient level of care for the conditions at hand, you may have a case against them. In this situation, it may be in your best interest to contact a Northern New Jersey construction accident lawyer.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have been representing construction workers and fighting for their rights for decades. To find out more about whether you have a case, get in touch with us for a free consultation.