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Why the winter months are especially dangerous for construction workers

Even when weather conditions are ideal, the job of a construction worker is dangerous. Add in high winds, bone-chilling temperatures, snow, sleet and ice and the risk of a construction worker suffering injury or death increase exponentially.

For road construction crews, the winter months are often especially harrowing times as workers must not only work in close proximity to speeding motor vehicles, but must also take into account potentially slippery road conditions. Poor visibility due to snowfalls, black ice and snow-packed roadways are just a few of the dangerous road conditions with which both drivers and road construction crews in New York must contend.

For construction workers who report to building work sites, winter weather conditions increase the risk of suffering slip-and-fall accidents on the ground as well as when working atop scaffolding. To prevent serious fall-related accidents and injuries, employers are advised to ensure workers are outfitted with proper foot and safety gear. Additionally, other safety measures like additional installing more guardrails and may be necessary during the winter months.

In addition to snow and ice, cold temperatures put construction workers at an increased risk of suffering frostbite, dehydration, hypothermia and other adverse health events like heart attacks and stroke. To ensure that workers keep warm, employers should make sure that workers have protective head and hand gear as well as adequate layers of clothing. Employers should also increase the number and frequency of breaks to ensure workers are staying hydrated and warming when necessary.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Winter Weather: Hazards/Precautions," Dec. 16, 2015

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