While any time of the year can pose workplace risks, the California winter season brings situations like frost, rain, and cold. As the weather turns colder there are more risks for individuals that work outside, some of the most common being slips and falls.
Slips and falls
Slips and falls often occur when the workplace is icy or wet. Workers who are at higher risk for slips and falls include those working in construction, healthcare and retail. Some of the most common workplace injuries from slips and falls include bruises, cuts, broken bones and head injuries.
Frostbite is a serious problem that occurs when skin and soft tissue freeze and can lead to permanent damage. Sometimes called “cold burns,” frostbite most commonly affects the extremities, such as the hands, feet, nose and ears. Workers who are most affected by frostbite are those who work outdoors in cold weather, but it can also occur indoors in freezers and coolers.
Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water. Health problems that may arise from hypothermia include heart failure, respiratory problems and even death. Workers who are most at risk for hypothermia are those who work outdoors in cold weather, but it can also occur indoors with constant exposure to freezers and coolers.
You can protect yourself from these workplace risks by taking some simple precautions. Dress warmly and in layers when working outdoors and in freezers. Be sure to take breaks to warm up even if you are not starting to feel cold, especially when sweating. If possible, try to avoid working in wet or icy conditions. And, if you work in a cold environment, be sure to monitor the temperature and humidity levels to prevent hypothermia.