If you’re a great construction boss, you know your men. You do your best to protect them and your company from personal injury and the risk of a workers’ compensation case.
Your radar is on “high alert” if you have a worker who regularly shows up with that suspicious whiff of alcohol on his breath. However, you may not be aware that drinking alcohol puts your worker at greater risk for hypothermia.
It’s the slow season for those who work outside — roofers, home improvement contractors, and anyone in the construction industry. So, you take work when you can get it, right? Working out in the elements is just something you do to make ends meet. Plus, you need to keep your crew busy so they can feed their families.
Finding skilled reliable help is always a huge challenge for home improvement contractors and the construction industry. It’s easy to ignore that whiff of alcohol, however, when a crew member shows up dependably, works hard, and does good work. Your sharp eyes will always be watching to see if they are able to safely and reliably do their job.
Prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures is a game-changer.
That’s right. According to WebMD, alcohol increases this risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia threatens the safety of your crew and those around them in several ways. To prevent a serious accident on the job and avoid a personal injury or workers’ compensation case due to hypothermia, you need to know the signs.
- Shivering! This is actually a good thing. While there’s shivering, there’s hope! While we’ve all done our share of shivering due to winter weather, there’s a difference. In the early stages of hypothermia, shivering is uncontrollable. As hypothermia progresses, shivering stops. I experienced this years ago during a surfing lesson in the Pacific Ocean. The thickest wet suit available did not shut out the cold ocean temperatures. My teeth would not stop chattering! Burying myself in the sun-warmed sand did the trick. The key is WARM UP immediately!
- Confusion. If your worker is not making sense, this is an elevated cause for alarm. Hypothermia is a medical emergency. It should not be ignored. It’s time to bring your crew in out of the cold for regular “warm-up” breaks. If you see a confused worker, you need to take swift action. While you wait with the victim indoors for the ambulance to arrive, remove any wet clothing, wrap the victim in warm blankets, and apply dry heat to the neck and middle portion of the body. Offer warm fluids. (NO alcohol, as that speeds up hypothermia.)
- Clumsiness and lack of coordination. Cold weather numbs both the extremities and the brain. That roofing nail gun or circular saw becomes a deadly weapon in clumsy hands! Avoid a personal injury case and a workers’ compensation case by checking for hypothermia, offering warm drinks, and frequent breaks to your crew.
- Shallow breathing, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion — also watch for these signs of hypothermia.
The onset of flu symptoms combined with working in frigid temperatures is an added ingredient for a possible fatality.
It’s a rugged outdoor life as a construction worker. When tough guys try to power through the weather, making that tough call may save lives and your business.
Injured on the job in Missouri or Illinois? You can find experienced, aggressive legal help today for your workers’ compensation case or personal injury case. Call The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC at (636)244-3737 for a free initial consultation.
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