Throughout the bitter cold that’s gripped large swaths of the country this winter, air travelers have expected their flights to take off on time as long as they could do so safely. To accomplish that, ground support workers have had to brave sub-zero temperatures. These are the people who service the planes, load and unload baggage and guide the planes on the tarmac and more.
One of the primary dangers for these employees and others whose work requires them to be outdoors regardless of the temperature is cold stress. This is what happens when a person’s internal body temperature is driven down to an unsafe level by the outdoor temperature. Windy conditions can hasten this process. Hypothermia and frostbite are two common types of cold stress.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns, “When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result,”
Employers have an obligation to protect their workers who are required to be out in freezing cold weather. This involves training managers and employees to know what precautions to take when the temperature drops.
These precautions include wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) designed for cold weather, drinking hot liquids and taking regular breaks indoors to warm up. Employees and managers should also be trained to recognize the signs of cold stress and other cold-related conditions in themselves and others.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm at work because of winter weather and you believe that it could have been prevented with the proper safety precautions in place, it may be wise to find out what your legal options are for seeking compensation for expenses and damages.