Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Do Colder Environments Pose Injury Risk to Workers in Missouri?

Many workers face risks associated with the temperature in the workplace. Workers who have to work in hot indoor or outdoor environments are often at risk of suffering a heat stroke. On the other hand, workers who have to work in cold environments such as chilled spaced, refrigerated areas, or a cold outside environment can also suffer injuries. 

Workplace Injuries Can Occur in Cold Indoor Environments

Recently, Safety BLR created a report on the risks of illness and injury among workers who work in refrigerated environments including workers who work in catering requiring them to be chilled spaces and those who work in laboratories with low temperatures. 

Many surveyed workers admitted that they experienced significant discomfort because of the low air temperature. Drafts made the workers even more uncomfortable. Most respondents said that they did not receive adequate safety training about avoiding injury and illness when working in cold environments.  

Respondents also admitted that the cold made it difficult for them to perform tasks that require manual dexterity. Many workers said that gloves were not provided or it was difficult to wear gloves. It is important to note that a lack of manual dexterity in employees working in food service can be dangerous and lead to injuries. For example, a worker who is chopping food in a chilled room could be at risk of cutting himself, because his hands are too cold. 


Preventing Worker Injuries 

The National Institute forOccupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has outlined suggestions for keeping workers safe when they have to work in cold indoor environments. These safety recommendations include the installation of equipment that limits drafts and reduces condensation in cold rooms, since condensation can make the clothing of workers wet and uncomfortable. Thin gloves or gloves with no fingertips should be provided to workers who work in cold rooms so that they can perform work that requires manual dexterity. 

Companies in which workers have to work in cold environments should have a standard protocol in place that allows workers time to change wet clothes. They should implement policies that rotate work between cold and warm places so that workers get a break from extreme cold temperature. If possible, the tasks that require manual dexterity should not be performed inside cold rooms. Workers should be provided hand warmers to help prevent accidents and injuries. 

Workers Compensation Benefits for Employees

Despite taking all safety measure, injuries and illnesses do occur. If you have to work in extreme temperatures and you have suffered an injury at the workplace, you might be entitled to workers compensation benefits. Speak with an experienced attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected - Call (314) 361-4300 to schedule a free and private consultation today.