Winter in Missouri, with its frigid temperatures and unpredictable weather, presents unique challenges for workers, particularly those working outdoors or in unheated environments. Understanding the causes of worker injuries during this season is crucial for implementing effective safety measures.
Of course, even the most safety-conscious workers can get hurt – through little or no fault of their own – at any time of year. However, it’s worth reviewing key safety considerations related to this particularly hazardous time of year. After all, when it comes to safety on the job, knowledge is power.
Key concerns and considerations
One of the most common causes of winter injuries is slipping on icy surfaces. Parking lots, sidewalks and work sites can become treacherous when a thin layer of ice or compacted snow is present. These conditions greatly increase the risk of falls, leading to injuries ranging from minor bruises to more severe fractures or concussions.
Additionally, prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia, especially in workers who do not have adequate winter gear. Frostbite occurs when skin and underlying tissues freeze, typically affecting extremities like fingers, toes, ears and the nose. Hypothermia, a more serious condition, happens when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, leading to a dangerously low body temperature.
Cold weather can strain the heart. Activities like shoveling snow, pushing a stranded vehicle, or even just moving heavy equipment in the cold can be more taxing on the body. This extra strain can lead to heart-related injuries, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
Finally, winter weather can significantly impair visibility and make road surfaces slippery, increasing the likelihood of vehicle accidents. This is a particular concern for workers who operate vehicles as part of their job, such as delivery drivers or those in the transportation sector.
By understanding and addressing these winter-specific hazards, employers and employees alike can (very hopefully) significantly reduce the risk of injuries during the colder months.