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Winter brings additional injury risks for construction workers

While construction work slows down here in Illinois during our brutal winters, it doesn’t come to a halt. Some projects still have to move forward. However, employers need to take some additional precautions to protect their employees from extreme cold, strong freezing winds and icy conditions.

The chances of illnesses related to the cold increase during the winter months. Workers need to have clothing and gear that will help protect them from sub-freezing temperatures. They also need to be able to take regular breaks to get inside and warm up. Employees and supervisors need to be able to recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

The chances of certain types of injury also increase in the winter. Following are some precautions that those in charge of construction sites need to take to minimize the potential for serious and potentially fatal injuries when the temperatures drop.

Slip-and-fall injuries are a threat when surfaces are icy and wet. A fall from a multistory construction site can be deadly. Workers need to have footwear with sturdy, nonslip soles. Employers also need to monitor the sites daily to make sure that ice and snow don’t accumulate in the work areas, including all paths leading to and from the site. If the ice can’t be chipped away, salt or sand should be spread on top of it.

The chances of getting into a crash in a work vehicle also increase in winter weather. All vehicles should be regularly inspected to make sure that their batteries, tires, brakes, lights and signals operate properly. All vehicles should contain emergency kits with supplies such as ice scrapers, tow chains, blankets and food and water.

Employers have a duty to make their construction sites as safe as possible for their workers. They must provide the training and education necessary for those workers to stay safe and help ensure the safety of their colleagues. If you or a loved one suffered an injury on a construction site that you believe could and should have been prevented, it’s wise to learn about your legal options.