The winter temperatures in Minnesota often drop well below freezing, which can make working outdoors in the North Star State extremely hazardous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national rate of sleet, ice and snow-related occupational injuries in 2017 was 1.8 per 10,000 workers. The average rate in Minnesota between 2008 and 2017 was 4.7 injuries per 10,000 workers. However, there are precautions that workers can take to significantly reduce their chances of suffering cold-weather injuries.
Slips, trips and falls
Most winter workplace injuries are caused by falls and not exposure to the elements. These accidents often happen when ice forms and walking surfaces become treacherous or snow accumulations conceal curbs or potholes. Wearing footwear that provides adequate grip, finding handholds and exercising extreme caution are the best ways to avoid winter falls. These risks should be taken seriously as only motor vehicle accidents kill more American workers each year than falls.
Frostbite and cold stress
Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can cause permanent tissue damage, and the nose, fingers and toes are particularly susceptible. Workers should wear several layers of warm clothing and scarves, hats and gloves to protect their extremities, and they should also increase the number of calories they take in as the metabolism speeds up when the body temperature drops. Failing to take these measures can lead to debilitating conditions like frostbite, chilblains, hypothermia and trench foot.
Workers’ compensation claims
Workers’ compensation benefits help injured or sick workers to make ends meet while they are unable to bring home a paycheck, but the paperwork and bureaucratic process they must contend with during the application process can be frustrating. Attorneys with workers’ comp experience could help to ensure that injured or sick workers receive all of the benefits they are entitled to, and they could also file appeals on their behalf if their claims are denied.