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Employers may have to take steps to prevent cold-related injuries

Minnesota's recent cold snap affected nearly everyone in the state. Although some people may have had to make minor adjustments in their daily schedule to accommodate record-low temperatures, those who regularly work outdoors may have had much more serious concerns. As the winter continues and Minnesotans brace for the possibility of more cold spells, it may be important to take steps to prevent workplace injuries related to plummeting temperatures.

According to one official from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, being prepared is the best way workers and their employers can combat cold weather. Paying attention to forecasts is a clear first step in preventing work injuries in cold weather.

Of course, knowing that the weather is going to be cold only goes so far. Employers should take steps to ensure their employees are ready for the weather. This could include training, in addition to providing protective apparel, regularly scheduled breaks and a warm shelter.

When temperatures get to a certain point, the body may not be able to warm itself. This is when tissue injuries occur, which can lead to permanent damage. At the most extreme, cold weather can be fatal. As such, employers may want to ensure that work outdoors is necessary before telling employees to complete tasks in the most extreme temperatures.

Of course, certain jobs must take place outside, no matter the weather. If this is the case, precautions should be taken. Even when employers and employees are cautions, it may still be beneficial to understand what options are available in the event that someone suffers a weather-related injury.

Source: EHS Today, "How Cold Is Too Cold? Tips to Protect Outdoor Workers," Sandy Smith, Jan. 8, 2014

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Law Office of David M. Bialke
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