New York winters, like those seen across much of New England, can be incredibly harsh. Most people have the luxury of escaping into a heated building throughout the day when they work. However, a large number of people in New York work outside, while others have to drive in dangerous inclement weather for their job.
Whether they work in construction, utilities repairs, trash collection or even law enforcement, workers can often spend their entire day out in sub-zero weather during a New York winter. Just like you should take precautions to prevent against sunstroke and sunburn in the summer, you should definitely take steps to protect yourself from winter related maladies if you work outside.
Dress in layers and come prepared for the cold
The most important thing you can do to keep yourself safe while working outdoors during the New York winter is to ensure you have proper clothing. You need closed-toed, insulated boots that provide both warmth and traction. You also want to have several layers of clothing on both your legs and your upper body to maintain your core temperature and prevent frostbite.
Investing in a good pair of gloves is also wise, as your fingers and hands are often the first to experience the numbing pain of frostbite. Proper headgear, including facial coverings, is also necessary. Many workers must cover everything other than their eyes to prevent frostbitten cheeks, noses and earlobes.
If your job allows it, bring a large thermos with warm coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Having something warm to enjoy during your breaks can help increase your core temperature and keep you warm and alert on the job.
Your employer should provide rest stations or other protections
If you will work outside all day in the same location, like construction workers do, your employer should have a heated or sheltered break area. During your breaks and meal time, you should be able to warm up and sit down outside of the elements in such a shelter. Otherwise, your employer should provide adequate time for you to get indoors during your lunch at the very least.
Your employer should also have policies in place that reduce your risk of exposure to the cold. Weather that is a rotating schedule of work duties or specialized heating equipment on a job site, the right accommodations can prevent workers from frostbite and many of the other issues that arise from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.
Workers who get hurt on the job because of extreme cold or frozen precipitation may have grounds for a workers’ compensation claim or even a lawsuit against their employer. Reviewing the details of your case with an attorney familiar with New York law is a good first step to determining what options you have.