Regardless of the weather, work must go on, even though Minnesota workers face seasonal risks that could have severe consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety standards for protecting workers from cold-related workplace injury hazards. With the drop in temperatures comes the risk of hypothermia, trench foot, frostbite and other cold-related illnesses.
According to OSHA, winter hazards put those at risk whose jobs involve driving, shoveling snow, using snowblowers and other powered equipment. Road construction crews are exceptionally vulnerable, and so are teams who must clear away downed trees and repair damaged or downed power lines. Even just working close to power lines is dangerous. Workers tasked with clearing snow from heights like roofs face unique hazards, which also apply for other work in elevated areas.
While slippery conditions from snow and ice pose risks to workers in all industries, those whose jobs keep them outside for long hours are probably most vulnerable. Construction and agricultural workers know all too well that increased wind speed can cause the temperatures to drop even more. Employees in industries like meat processing might be exposed to extreme cold in freezers.
The types of winter hazards are typically determined by the industry and the kind of work done, and employers must mitigate the risks their employees face. Any worker in Minnesota who suffers a workplace injury, regardless of who was at fault, is typically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Many injured workers choose to utilize the skills of an experienced worker’s compensation attorney to guide then through the legal and administrative steps in pursuit of maximum compensation under applicable laws.