Iowa is no stranger to extreme weather conditions. In the past decade alone, Iowans have seen it all—tornados, hail, ice storms, blizzards, flash floods, derechos, etc. Extreme heat, cold, and storms can lead to weather-related injuries on the job, and that could result in Workers’ Compensation benefits for injured Iowa workers.
Cold Weather Injuries
Ice, snow, and bitter cold can be hard on every Iowan, including Iowa workers. Every day in the winter, it seems we hear about friends, family members, and coworkers who fall on slippery ice and snow. It can happen anywhere — at home, work, stores, and so on. Here are a few cold injury risks workers may face.
- Falls. Workers have a risk of falling on ice when arriving or leaving work. Sidewalks and parking lots should be cleared of snow and ice and sanded or salted to provide grip.
- Frostbite. Individuals who work outside face winter conditions that have the potential to cause frostbite on fingers, toes, and noses. Warm work attire and frequent breaks to warm up can prevent frostbite.
- Vehicle crashes. Those who drive for a living deal with snow and ice on the roads, which can lead to auto accidents, crashes, and spinouts. While car or truck accidents may not be preventable, being aware of winter driving conditions is important for workers who drive and their employers.
Heat-Related Work Injuries
You don’t have to work as a firefighter to experience overheating, heat stroke, dehydration, or another injury or illness related to heat. As we all know, Iowa’s humid summer months can be stifling. This can put construction, farm, and other workers at risk of heat-related illnesses. Sweat can also cause hands to slip, which can mean something heavy gets dropped or the worker fails to properly operate equipment. Proper clothing and frequent water breaks to rest and cool off are a must to keep workers safe.
Indoor workers at manufacturing facilities are also at risk of overheating or having an accident related to heat. Sweat can get in a worker’s eyes or fog up safety glasses, causing a hazardous situation when running equipment or handling dangerous chemicals. Again, sweaty hands can be a factor in causing an accident on the manufacturing line or in a lab.
Finally, dehydration can occur in any type of heat, including dry heat. In dry heat, the sweat dries quickly, so you don’t realize how quickly your body is losing moisture. Heat combined with exertion can dehydrate workers before they realize what is happening. Measures should be in place to allow workers access to water and frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning, if available.
Storms and Workers’ Compensation
Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe when storms strike. That includes having a place for them to go in case of a tornado, hail, or windstorm like the derecho of 2020. Employers schedule storm drills to ensure that workers know the location of the storm shelter and how to get there. Employees should actively participate in storm drills, so they know where to go and the necessary shutdown procedures for equipment.
Tips to Prevent Weather-Related Injuries on the Job
Workers as well as employers should have measures in place to protect everyone from risk of weather-related injuries. The following tips will help keep you prepared for the ever-changing Iowa weather.
- Proper attire
- Your own water bottle
- Safety equipment suited to heat or cold
- Scheduled breaks for rest and water
- Awareness of driving conditions
- Preparedness for storms
If you believe you have become ill or been injured due to a weather-related incident, you may be able to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. Report your injury or illness as soon as possible to your employer, and contact Wertz Law for expert guidance in Iowa Workers’ Compensation law.