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Winter season brings new safety issues for outdoor workers

Although Texas does not experience the extreme winter weather of other regions, the season still brings cooler temperatures that could expose workers to hazards. Outdoor workers should take precautions to avoid injury or illness when the temperatures dip.

Employers also have an obligation to protect employees from cold conditions and provide training regarding the prevention of cold stress. Workers should learn how to recognize symptoms of cold weather problems like frostbite, hypothermia, chilblains and trench foot. Outdoor workers may need warm and dry shelters set up for their use during breaks. Depending on the temperature, workers might need access to a warm shelter every 15 minutes out of an hour of labor.

Supervisors need to assess weather conditions based on the factors of temperature, wind and moisture. Each part plays a role in how quickly heat is sapped from the body. Dehydration represents a year-round concern. When people are not sweating, they might not feel a need to drink water but dehydration could still be happening. The winter season also increases risks for cardiac issues like angina that can be brought on by breathing cold air during exertion.

When a worker does suffer a workplace injury, they have a right to make a claim upon the employer's workers' compensation insurance. No negligence on the part of the employer needs to be shown to collect benefits like medical treatment and compensation for lost pay. In some cases, a worker might want the services of an attorney during this process if an insurer denies a claim or an employer attempts to block access to benefits. A lawyer could prepare claim paperwork and defend the person's need for benefits in court if an insurer tries to deny a legitimate claim.

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