Dropping temperatures and frozen precipitation can make the Minnesota winters absolutely brutal. Most people have snow gear in their homes and understand that they need to adjust their driving habits for their own safety once the fall starts winding down to a close.
With chillier ambient temperatures and intense winter weather on the horizon, workers who do their jobs outside may have to make drastic shifts in the equipment that they use and their practices on their job sites. The hazards during the winter are vastly different for outdoor workers than the risks that they face during the summer months.
Prolonged exposure of the skin to cold temperatures and strong winds can cause damage to the skin and even the nerves. Frostbite is a painful condition that often develops in the extremities first. Fingers, toes and even someone’s nose could end up seriously damaged from long-term exposure to cold temperatures throughout the day. The colder the temperature drops, the faster frostbite could develop.
Even if someone has warm boots, thick gloves and facial coverings, the cold temperatures outside can still affect their health. Hypothermia or a reduction in overall body temperature can lead to major medical challenges and diminished work performance. Hypothermia can affect people’s motor function and their cognition. In extreme cases, it may lead to lethargy and unconsciousness, followed by death.
Slips, trips and falls
Dry snow, icy pavement and sleet can all make moving around outdoors dangerous during the colder months of the year. Slips, trips and falls are a risk in any career or workplace environment, but they are of particular concern to those who must traverse frigid outdoor terrains as part of their employment.
Those who work outside need the right safety gear to protect themselves. Their employers should also provide accommodations, including warming stations, hot beverages and frequent breaks, to help people stave off the worst possible consequences of cold weather in an outdoor work environment.
If someone ends up with frostbite or a head injury from a slip-and-fall, they can potentially seek workers’ compensation benefits as a way to cover their lost wages and pay their medical treatment expenses.