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3 ways to reduce the risk of cold weather at work

It's cold outside, and that puts you and your coworkers at risk of several types of injuries. You've been working in construction for several years, and you know that the winter can be difficult for your team. Here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself and others around you.

1) Prepare for the chill

If you have a day warm enough to work, remember that it can still be cold enough to hurt you. Cold metal beams, frozen surfaces or melting ice can also pose risks at the worksite. Sometimes, your tools won't work correctly, or materials won't work in the weather conditions. For example, concrete doesn't set well below freezing temperatures. That means you may need to use special blankets or chemicals to set it, creating an extra hazard in the workplace.

It's not just the surfaces being slick or cold materials that pose a threat. The cold itself can lead to hypothermia and makes you lose energy faster than a warm day. You can become fatigued more easily, and that means you could make mistakes. Take more breaks than usual, so you get a chance to warm up.

2) Have first aid available

A good thing for employers to do is to verify that everyone at the site knows how to recognize cold-weather health conditions such as frostbite or hypothermia. When the team watches each member, it's easier to tell when a break is needed to get out of the cold. Insulating the worksite with tarps, if possible, also helps cut down on wind chill and helps hold in heat.

First aid kits should have instant hand warmers to help instantly provide relief to cold hands and feet. Workers should wear protective gear made for the elements including waterproof and temperature-graded clothing. Warm drinks and food, like soups, teas, cocoa, coffee and others should also be on site to help workers warm up.

3). Maintain all equipment

It goes without saying that freezing rain can damage tools and equipment left on an open site. Rain and mud could clog tools or cause the tools to malfunction. Make sure everyone on the construction team is aware of the risks these elements cause and takes the time to clean or perform maintenance on machinery before using it. If anything seems wrong or out of place, it's a better idea to wait to use the machinery and to have it fixed than to use it and suffer an injury from a malfunction.

If you're hurt on the job, you have the option of filing a workers' compensation claim. This can help you secure payments when you can't work and help you cover medical expenses. If your claim is denied, your attorney can help you file an appeal.

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