Cold Weather Impacts Construction Workers

Construction workers face challenges each day when they go to work. The industry is riskier than others, and construction workers are injured more often than those in other types of jobs. During the latest reporting year in the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that 20.7% of all workplace fatalities were employees in the construction industry.

As the weather gets colder, construction workers face a different set of risks that could cause serious harm on-the-job. Construction companies and employees should keep safety at the forefront as the winter months move in. Here are some common cold-weather construction issues to keep in mind:

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Already one of the leading causes of construction injuries, slips, trips, and falls are much more likely as the temperatures dip below freezing. Even though Tennessee has a reputation for being a warm spot, residents know just how cold it can get. When snow or ice accumulates, the conditions around a job site can become slipperier than usual, increasing the risk of falls.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

There are plenty of vehicles around a construction job site transporting people and materials from place to place. When conditions become icy and slippery, vehicle accidents become much more likely. This is especially true for job sites located near the roadway and traffic.

Cold Stress and the Body

The cold can stress our bodies and can lower our core temperature down to dangerously low levels. The risk of cold stress on our bodies increases when:

  • clothing is damp or wet
  • a person is improperly dressed for winter weather
  • an individual has poor physical conditioning
  • an individual has certain predisposed health conditions such as hypothyroidism, low or high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Cold stress on the body can lead to frostbite, hypothermia, trench foot, and more. Frostbite is non-fatal but can lead to long-term damage to a person’s extremities, including amputation of the fingers and toes or permanent nerve damage as the skin freezes. Trench foot occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and wet conditions and can occur at temperatures above freezing. It can cause a lack of oxygen to the tissues and the skin will begin to die. Hypothermia can occur when the heat of the body is lost faster than it is being replaced, which can become fatal.

Weakened Concrete

When concrete dries, a chemical reaction changes it from a liquid to a solid. To achieve a durable finish, concrete needs to dry as quickly as possible, but the temperature dramatically affects drying time. The colder the temperature, the longer it takes for the concrete to dry. If concrete freezes before it dries, its structure will be beyond damage. This will weaken the concrete beyond repair.

Drywall and Painting

Working with spackle and joint compound on drywall when the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is hard to do. They become brittle and do not adhere properly. Cold weather can also make painting difficult and increase the time it takes for the paint to dry.

Safety is Important

Construction companies must take steps to keep employees safe in the colder months. This could include providing proper winter weather clothing, heaters in certain areas of a job site, and more breaks when necessary to ensure workers stay warm.

If you’ve been injured, contact our Nashville construction accident attorneys today.