4 tips for winter weather work in Ohio

If you work in an outdoor or otherwise cold setting, you should know how to keep yourself safe.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, for every 100 full-time workers in the state in 2014, there were 2.9 who suffered a nonfatal workplace injury. Though this is lower than the national average, it still represents a significant number of people who were in pain or missed time from work.

For many people in Ohio, working outdoors can present the possibility of illness or injury. The state is no stranger to cold weather and winter precipitation. Anyone who may undergo these conditions should know how to remain safe, such as through the following tips:

1. Dress for the job

Cold weather begs for appropriate clothing. The best way to insulate a body and prevent a weather-related workplace illness is to layer it with loose clothing as opposed to simply relying on one bulky item. Further, clothing that is too tight will restrict circulation. It is vital to circulate warm blood throughout the body in order to keep extremities safe from frostbite.

Speaking of extremities, hands, feet, ears and the face should all be covered when temperatures are extremely cold. Wearing a hat can go a long way to keep the body warmer because it traps the heat that would otherwise escape from the head.

2. Keep extra gear nearby

When possible, workers should keep extra cold weather clothing and items close, such as in a vehicle. Socks or gloves could get wet during the course of work, rendering them essentially useless in the cold. Having an extra pair of each as well as another hat, jacket and a blanket is a good idea. Experts also recommend having an entire change of clothes and a thermos of hot liquid.

3. Take breaks and limit exposure

Exposure to extreme temperatures should be limited. Employers should have warm locations where people who work outside can take a break. Further, employers should plan ahead so that projects that would take people outside for extended periods of time are scheduled for warmer months.

4. Know the warning signs

Frostbite and hypothermia are extremely concerning situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in an average of 1,301 people died every year between 1999 to 2011 due to hypothermia. Anyone exposed to extreme temperatures should be able to recognize the signs that something is amiss.

Concerning hypothermia, someone may suddenly become clumsy and have slurred speech. Shivering will actually cease as the condition worsens. Instead, people should watch for confusion and extremely low energy. When left untreated, this illness can be deadly.

Frostbite will begin as numbness and a change in skin color. The skin may also appear hard or waxy-looking. Clumsiness may also set in as appendages become difficult to use. With either condition, taking immediate action is imperative.

People who do suffer an illness or injury on the job are likely entitled to workers' compensation. Anyone with concerns about this topic should speak with an attorney in Ohio.