Construction employees working on roofs, bridges, and high buildings may be painfully aware of the dangers of work at height. However, employees open to the elements are also at risk of an overlooked physical danger—cold. Hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold stress injuries may have temporary effects on construction workers or result in permanent damage, including death.
Who Is at Fault When New York City Construction Workers Suffer Cold Injuries?
Due to the changing nature of work environments required in construction, cold injuries are not just a danger in winter—and they do not just happen at height. Many are caused indoors in artificially refrigerated areas, during heavy rains in spring, or due to the handling of cold tools without gloves.
You may have a construction accident injury claim if your employer did not execute adequate safety measures for working in the cold, such as:
- Failing to provide proper protection. High winds and low temperatures can cause exposed layers of skin tissue to freeze, resulting in frostbite that could require amputation. Wearing insulated boots and insulated gloves can help prevent frostbite caused by exposure to cold or handling metal tools. Employers should also require head coverings (such as hoods and caps) under hard hats to increase body temperature.
- Requiring break periods. Workers can suffer cold injuries even at moderate temperatures if they work in them for long periods of time. Employers should consider both the temperature and the length of time spent in the environment, and ensure that workers to take breaks indoors or in heated shelters to warm up between tasks.
- Accounting for all factors. The temperature is only one factor in determining the risk of hypothermia. High winds can cause a person’s body to lose heat more quickly, and exposure to water (from rain or snow) or damp clothing places a worker at even higher risk.
- Failing to train employees. Employees should be properly trained on how to work in the cold, how to recognize the signs of hypothermia and frostbite in coworkers, and what actions to take if a worker begins shivering, slurs his speech, or loses coordination.
If you have suffered an injury on the job, our New York construction accident lawyers can explain your legal options at no cost to you. Simply fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free initial consultation.