Construction is one of the most hazardous industries in Illinois. The risk of falls and injuries from machinery is well-known, and during the winter, there are additional hazards caused by inclement weather conditions.
Exposure to cold temperatures
A lot of construction work is done outside, and cold temperatures can be a huge hazard during a long workday. Exposure to very cold, but not freezing, temperatures can cause construction injuries called chilblains. A chilblain is an inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to permanent damage.
When construction workers are exposed to freezing temperatures, they are at risk for frostbite. Frostbite is a more severe injury than chilblains and can result in the need for amputation in some cases. Another risk of exposure to severe cold is hypothermia, which requires immediate medical attention.
Slip and fall accidents
As pathways become wet and icy during the winter, the risk of falling on a construction site is increased. Construction workers who are working at heights are especially in danger while walking on a slippery surface. Employers should do everything they can to monitor icy areas and mitigate risks.
Construction workers may operate vehicles on a worksite or travel to and from different areas when they transport materials. The risk of getting into a car accident is higher during the winter as visibility is low and roads are icier. There is also an increased risk for construction workers who do their work alongside roadways. Without clear signage or enough flaggers, construction workers may be injured or killed in pedestrian accidents.
Workers need to watch out for some of the most common winter hazards in construction. Employers also have a duty to prevent injury among their workers.