Maine is no stranger to brutal cold. As one of the northernmost states in the country, our municipalities and other infrastructures are well steeled for frigidity.
The polar vortex, however, has resulted in record-breaking winter weather, with wind chills in some areas causing temperatures to plummet as far as 60 to 70 degrees below zero. In this kind of environment, frostbite can attack exposed skin in a matter of minutes. A person who travels outside without the proper dress would be at grave risk for hypothermia, and even death.
Employers have a responsibility to take every necessary precaution to protect workers toiling under these conditions. Employees who suffer severe cold stress injuries as a result should file a Bangor workers’ compensation claim.
In these cases it does not matter whether contributory negligence was a factor (that is, the worker was in some way responsible) or whether the worker assumes some level of risk when he or she takes the job.
So for example, it doesn’t matter that as a snow plow operator, you knew you would be risking your safety by being exposed to the cold. It also wouldn’t matter if you failed to wear gloves provided to you by the company in the course of your work and suffered frostbite as a result (though we certainly wouldn’t recommend it). If your injury occurred while you were working, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
But most cold stress injuries are preventable. The primary types of cold stress injuries are:
- Cold water immersion;
- Trench foot;
Each one of these can have serious and sometimes lasting consequences to your health and wellness – and possibly even your future ability to work. (In these situations, it may also be worthwhile to explore filing for a Social Security Disability Insurance claim, though you must understand that doing so could impact your workers’ compensation benefits. It’s possible to receive both, but you won’t receive the full amount of both at the same time. This is one of the reasons why consulting with an experienced personal injury law firm that handles both types of claims can be beneficial.)
Of course, avoiding these kinds of injuries in the first place is always preferable. Here are some of the precautionary recommendations offered up by the U. . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wear appropriate clothing. This includes several loose layers, making sure to cover the face, hands, ears and feet. Make sure your boots are insulated and waterproof. Donning a winter hat can go a long way in helping you to retain heat.
- Take your work breaks in a warm space, and limit the amount of time you are exposed to the cold as much as possible.
- Carry extra gear with you, such as gloves, socks, hats, a blanket, a jacket and a thermos of warm liquid.
- Keep chemical hot packs, along with a thermometer, in your first aid kit.
- Don’t touch cold metal surfaces with your bare skin.
- Keep an eye on your own physical condition, as well as that of your co-workers.
If you have suffered a cold weather injury while working in Maine, seek immediate medical attention.
If you are seeking workers’ compensation benefits in Bangor, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004.
Bitter cold scrambles travel and prompts danger warnings, Jan. 6, 2014, By William Spain, William M. Welch and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
More Blog Entries:
Maine Ice Slip and Fall Accidents Commonplace as Winter Begins, Dec. 22, 2014, Maine Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog