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Keeping outdoor workers safe during the winter months

Because it is in the South, Georgia enjoys warm temperatures for many months of the year. Because many outdoor workers deal with the heat regularly, they may be unprepared to work safely when temperatures drop. In the winter, Georgia does get quite cold, and it is important for employers to know how to keep all workers safe when they must be outdoors. 

You may be familiar with heat stress and other temperature-related conditions, but cold stress can be just as dangerous and damaging. In fact, workers who are unprepared and do not take certain precautions can suffer serious damage and physical duress. As an employee, you have the right to a reasonable expectation to safety while fulfilling your job duties.

Taking steps to avoid cold stress

Cold stress is a term often used to describe various physical ailments that can arise from long-term or frequent exposure to the cold. Hypothermia, frostbite and other medical issues can arise when working in extreme temperatures. Employers should train employees to stay safe, and provide the equipment necessary to complete their jobs without unnecessary physical risk.

There are steps that employers can take to ensure that workers do not experience unnecessary harm while working outdoors. Examples of how to prevent cold stress and temperature-related illnesses include:

  • Carefully monitor the physical condition of all workers
  • Allow and make workers take frequent breaks out of the elements
  • Try to schedule outdoor tasks during the warmest parts of the day
  • Provide warm drinks and a place for workers to rest if needed
  • Set up heaters when possible 

Georgia employers may not realize the importance of doing so, but all outdoor workers should learn to recognize the signs of cold stress and the onset of illnesses when working in the extreme cold. Even though you may work in the heat and humidity often, it is for your safety to be prepared for the times when it is extremely cold. 

What are the rights of injured workers?

Injured workers have various rights, including the right to seek compensation for any injuries they suffer on the job. This also includes illnesses and complications that arise from cold stress and other work-related ailments.

You could have grounds to seek financial support through a workers' compensation claim. You deserve benefits that may include recovery of a portion of your lost wages, medical care and even help reentering the workforce. It may be helpful to seek an explanation of the benefits that could be available in your specific situation.

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