Working in the Winter? What Seasonal Construction Accidents to Avoid
Traditionally, the winter months in New York were a time of little activity in the construction industry, but better technology, equipment, and best practices are changing that. Many construction projects are continuing into November, December, and beyond.
While this year-round approach to construction is great for productivity and project timelines, it does create some complications for workers and employee safety. Spring is statistically the high season for construction accidents, but there are certain incidents that are more likely and frequent during the winter months than other times of year. By percentage, construction sites see more slip and fall, electrocutions, and similar construction accidents during the winter. At Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C., we point to some of New York’s most common seasonal accidents.
Frostbite, Hypothermia, Trench Foot, Oh My!
Logically, one of the biggest causes of winter construction accidents is the change in temperature. While New York enjoys temperate springs and hot summers, the weather becomes frigid and unrelenting during the winter. In upper parts of the state, it is common for snowfall to last for weeks. In these lower temperatures, accidents and injuries from the cold are a true concern on any construction site.
Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause frostbite. This condition is actually the freezing of the skin and underlying tissue. A medical professional can treat certain cases of frostbite for a full recovery, but the condition can also cause permanent injury. Signs of frostbite include numbness, particularly in the extremities, nose, or earlobes; severe tingling or pins and needles; redness that develops into gray or white skin tones; and hard or waxy looking skin.
Another common construction accident from the cold is hypothermia. While similarly caused by extended exposure to intense cold, the symptoms and condition of hypothermia are quite different from frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the results are unconsciousness, and when severe, death. Some signs of hypothermia are shivering, slow or difficult breathing, drowsiness, confusion, and slurred speech.
Finally, there are temperature-related construction accidents more common on sites where digging, excavation, and soil removal are occurring. For example, where a foundation is dug and poured. One of the most well-known is trench foot. Trench foot occurs when there is exposure to both cold and wetness, most commonly in the feet and hands. Due to the freezing temperatures, the blood vessels in the feet constrict, impeding circulation. Swelling, blisters, and numbness are all signs of this serious condition.
Slip and Falls on Icy Surfaces and Snow
Slip and falls are frequent construction accidents at any time of year. There are constant hazards that can lead to hazardous circumstances or slippery surfaces, but these conditions are made more dangerous by icy surfaces or snow accumulation. As a construction accident law firm in New York, our team worries more about slip and falls more at this time of year than any other because of the additional hazards. Here’s what can go wrong on any construction site.
Ice is already more likely to accumulate on certain surfaces, many of which are found on construction sites. Ladders, scaffolding, stairs, and work platforms are some of the places to carefully inspects before beginning work. Icy surfaces lead to fractures, head injuries, neck and back injuries, concussions, and other serious construction injuries that may require legal advice on lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims.
When there is ice or snow on an active construction site, it should be cleared or clearly marked for any workers. However, snow and ice removal present a different set of dangers. Each year there are a number of construction accidents directly related to the removal of snow and ice. Most people associated these injuries with falls from ladders and work platforms, but heart attacks from overexertion are another worrisome result of shoveling snow.
It is important for any contractor or construction company to both ensure safe working conditions and physical fitness of the employees handling snow removal during a New York winter.
Take Action if a Construction Accident Occurs
There are a number of safety requirements and best practices that can limit the number of construction accidents during the winter. In fact, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has an entire list applicable to traditional construction sites and other workplaces. However, some construction accidents are just that – accidents. They result from employee fatigue or carelessness or are caused by conditions beyond a worker’s control.
When a construction accident does occur in New York, you should seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer. For example, at Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C., we can arrange an initial consultation immediately and begin advising on your accident and options soon after. Ready to seek assistance for a seasonal construction accident? Call us today at (212) 843-0907.
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David S. Leigh
David S. Leigh is a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer committed to helping those in the New York Metro area recover and find fair compensation after an accident or injury.
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