Winter in Colorado can be strikingly harsh, especially for employees working in cold weather. With temperatures often plunging below freezing, the risks of exposure to severe cold are significant, ranging from minor discomfort to serious medical conditions like hypothermia and frostbite.
However, with the right training and preparation, these dangerous illnesses or injuries can be effectively prevented. To protect employees during the winter months, employers need to train employees on winter safety and take steps to reduce the impact of cold weather.
Make Sure That Employees Are Equipped with Cold Weather Gear
One of the fundamental steps in winter safety training is ensuring that all employees are properly equipped with cold weather gear. This includes thermal clothing, gloves, hats, and waterproof boots.
Proper gear not only keeps employees warm but also reduces the risk of cold-related illnesses. Employers should emphasize the importance of dressing in layers to retain body heat and provide guidelines on selecting appropriate fabrics and materials. Even better, employers should supply cold weather clothing for their employees every season.
Teach Employees How to Drive Safely in Winter Weather
Navigating roads during Colorado winters demands additional skills and precautions. Employees who drive as part of their job should receive training on safe winter driving techniques. This includes understanding how to handle slippery road conditions, the importance of maintaining a safe following distance, and the use of snow tires or chains.
Employers should also keep their vehicles in good working condition, such as ensuring that brakes and headlights are in good working order. Preventative maintenance is crucial to stopping accidents before they happen.
Ensure That Employees Take Regular Breaks to Get Warm
Continuous exposure to cold can lead to a drop in body temperature, making regular warm-up breaks essential. Employers should establish a break schedule that allows employees to come inside and warm up periodically. These breaks are crucial not just for physical warmth but also for preventing fatigue and maintaining alertness, which is equally important when working outside in the winter.
Encourage Employees to Stretch, Avoid Smoking, and Drink Plenty of Liquids
Personal health habits can also reduce the risk of injury and illness during the winter. Employees should be encouraged to stretch regularly to maintain good blood circulation. Smoking, which can constrict blood vessels, should be avoided, particularly in cold weather. When blood flow is restricted, the risk of conditions such as frostbite is heightened, making these steps particularly important.
Moreover, staying hydrated is critical, even in cold conditions, as dehydration can be less noticeable but just as dangerous. Employers should make sure that their employees stay hydrated with caffeine-free liquids such as warm water and herbal tea.
What to Do If You Suffer a Cold Weather Accident on the Job
Despite all precautions, accidents or health issues related to cold weather can still occur. If you are injured while working in winter weather, you have the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your medical care, lost wages, and long-term disability. However, you will need to take certain steps to report the incident and seek the guidance and support that you deserve.
First, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Then, report the accident or injury to your employer so that they can initiate a workers’ compensation claim. Finally, contact a Denver workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your legal options and take your first steps toward the benefits that you deserve.