Construction work has historically been one of the most dangerous career paths in the United States. This is particularly true in urban areas where buildings may tower many stories high. Construction workers often have to work at great heights with dangerous machinery and in questionable weather conditions.
While daily work in construction may pose a risk to construction workers, winter weather conditions can complicate an already perilous career. Learning about potential dangers that you face on the job in the winter can help keep you safe.
Wind and frozen precipitation can contribute to falls and other accidents
Working outside at elevations greater than a single story is dangerous in any weather. Even during the nicest, calmest summer day, there is always a risk for a fall or for machinery or equipment to fail and send other objects tumbling toward workers lower down.
When the icy winds blow, precipitation freezes and temperatures drop dangerously low, the risk to construction workers increases. First and most obviously, ice and snow building up on a construction site can easily lead to a slip and then a fall.
However, this is far from the only source of risk. Winds can also knock a worker off balance and leave them vulnerable, while cold temperatures may result in the numbing of fingers or toes, which can decrease dexterity and increase the risk of a fall.
As if that were not concerning enough, there is also the risk of the poor winter weather impacting equipment and machinery. Many batteries do not operate optimally in freezing temperatures. Ice and snow can also inhibit the function of machinery and even simple pulley systems. Given that falling objects, such as supplies or machinery, is one of the biggest risks on a job site, it cannot be overstated how dangerous winter weather can make a construction site.
Be sure to watch out for your physical safety in the cold
Winter work on construction sites brings a host of potential risks, in addition to complicating known risk factors for construction job sites. Winter weather can also create additional new dangers. These include the potential for frostbite, which is serious. So, too, is hypothermia, which can set in after many hours outside in frigid temperatures.
Your employer should provide warming stations or an inside space during breaks to help stave off the risks caused by freezing temperatures. If you or someone you love wound up hurt on a construction site due to winter weather, you likely have a claim for workers' compensation to cover your losses. The benefits you should receive will include medical coverage and disability.