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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Safety Precautions During Winter Weather in New York: Keep Our Construction Workers Safe

January 15, 2021 in

The construction industry poses a myriad of risks year-round, however, winter weather brings unique concerns, especially for those working within the Northeast. Large cities such as New York average low temperatures in the twenties during winter months, leading to frozen jobsites and the potential for serious snowfall. 


Here, the construction accident attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo P.C. discuss safety precautions that should be taken during the winter months to keep construction workers safe, as well as steps to take if you have been involved in a construction site accident. 


Do Not Subject Construction Workers to Extreme Environments 


In 2019, 642 workers died from exposure to harmful substances or environments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Winter weather in the Northeast has been known to cause illness, and in severe cases, even death. Two of the most common illnesses related to winter weather are hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia poses a higher risk, leading to extensive health consequences that can ultimately become fatal if not treated. For those that are working with water on a jobsite, wet clothes and skin can exacerbate the effects of hypothermia, including confusion, slurred speech, drops in heart rate and difficulty breathing. 


Additionally, construction workers can develop what is known as “trench foot”, which is when blood vessels constrict in cold temperatures after becoming wet, leading the skin around those blood vessels to die. If you are forced to work in an extreme environment and are unable to receive medical treatment in a timely manner, consider seeking help through professional counsel. It is pertinent that the negligent party should be held responsible for their decisions that led to your illness, injury or your loved one’s passing. 


Continuously Monitor Worksite for Ice and Snow Dangers


Out of the worker fatalities in the past few years, 1 in 5 deaths were in the construction industry. Out of those deaths, 33.5% were caused by a fall, and 11.1% were caused by falling debris. Winter weather poses extensive risks in these areas, which is why it is vital to continuously monitor worksites, remove snowfall or debris in a swift manner and allow flexibility in project times to account for severe weather conditions. For example, if you are working on a high-rise construction project and areas of the building have not been cleaned off, you risk large chunks of ice breaking off and striking workers. Furthermore, if icy surfaces are present, there is a much higher risk of fall accidents for workers who are not properly protected or secured. 


Machine operators and drivers must also be careful after snow or ice storms, as navigating large equipment and trucks poses additional risks, such as equipment malfunctions that could potentially be fatal. Improper lubrication or failed maintenance of construction equipment may lead to failure on the jobsite, when workers are present and in harm’s way. While unfortunate, these events do occur, and so often, they could have been avoided through planning and proper safety procedures. 


Be Aware of the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


One winter weather danger that is commonly overlooked is the increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can build up in enclosed spaces, leading to neurological damage and death if continuously inhaled. Small gasoline-powered engines and tools, including car, truck and forklift engines. If you are working in an area where plastic coverings and tarps are being used, carbon monoxide can build up quickly. This is especially dangerous, as workers are not likely to notice until it is too late. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea and vomiting, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness. If severe enough, carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to permanent neurological damage, coma and death. 


Seek Assistance from SPBMCC After a Construction Accident 


The construction industry is one filled with risks, even marked by OSHA as having the “fatal four” reasons for construction deaths. If you or a loved one is involved in a construction accident as a result of negligence or improper safety procedures, it is vital that you seek help immediately. These preventable injuries and fatalities should not be overlooked, and the parties in question must be held accountable. With over 80 years of experience representing injured construction workers, the attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas and Cannavo P.C. are on your side.  Discuss your legal options with an attorney today by calling (212)-732-9000 or by contacting us here:

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