Working Safely In Extreme Weather

Those who frequently work outdoors or in certain indoor positions may be exposed to changing weather patterns. In the summer, this may necessitate battling the heat and humidity, whereas in the winter, additional effort may be required to protect against snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.

What Is Extreme Weather? 

Extreme weather occurs when the weather deviates for at least a day from its typical pattern. It could involve a heat wave or a cold spell, a flash flood, a hurricane, or a winter snowstorm.

Individuals who work in extreme weather conditions must take additional safety precautions. This includes dressing for the weather and taking measures to maintain a normal body temperature.

How Should Workers Prepare During a Cold Spell or Snowstorm?

When the weather becomes extremely cold, it’s important to ensure that workers are appropriately dressed. This can prevent the development of conditions like hypothermia, trench foot, and frostbite.

Included in extreme cold weather attire are:

  • Three layers of loose-fitting clothing were worn.
  • Covering the face and mouth with a knitted mask
  • A hat that covers the ears is being worn.
  • Using insulated gloves and boots to protect the hands and feet

If a worker begins to exhibit symptoms of cold stress, such as excessive shivering, loss of coordination, white patches on the skin, or numbness in certain areas of the body, the employer should assist the worker.

The initial step is to dial 911 for medical assistance. The individual should be moved to a warm area while waiting. Wet clothing should be removed and replaced with dry clothing if possible.

How Should Workers Prepare During Extreme Heat?

Workers expected to perform their duties in hot environments require time to acclimate to temperature changes. The majority of workers who become seriously injured or die during hot weather do so because the body requires at least a few days to develop a tolerance to heat.

They may develop conditions such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke if they do not adequately adapt to the heat and protect themselves from it.

Individuals who work in extreme heat should take the following precautions:

  • Put on loose-fitting garments.
  • Utilize a hat as sun protection.
  • Wear sunblock
  • Take frequent fluid and water breaks in cooler regions
  • Utilize shorter shifts

Employers should be on the lookout for signs of heat illness in their employees. If an employee begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke or heat exhaustion, the employer should move him or her to a cooler area or call 911. If not treated immediately, heatstroke can cause permanent disability and additional complications.

What Responsibilities Do Employers Owe to Their Employees?

Unfortunately, New York has not enacted any laws to protect workers who perform tasks during extreme weather conditions. Workers are expected to dress appropriately for the weather and take precautions while on the job.

Through its General Duty Clause, OSHA does protect workers who work in extreme weather conditions. Employers are required by the clause to provide a safe workplace and eliminate potential hazards that could cause physical harm or death.

However, OSHA does not outline specific requirements for employers who frequently expose their employees to extreme temperatures.

Employers must ensure that employees are appropriately attired for tasks that take place in extreme weather and provide areas where employees can take breaks from the heat. Additionally, they should provide adequate fluids and monitor their employees regularly for any signs of weather-related illness.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm

Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.

Abrams Law Group
104-70 Queens Boulevard, Suite 502
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 997-9797

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