As spring turns to summer, one risk that workers still need to be aware of is the threat of weather-related hazards. Though North Carolina is generally warm throughout the spring and summer, a few cold snaps and chilly days or nights could still happen.
For workers who are outside, understanding these weather conditions is the key to staying safe. Some of the weather conditions you and coworkers should be educated on include:
- Tornado season, which lasts from March through August with an average 31 tornadoes per year
- Frosts, which may occur overnight or in the early morning hours. These frosts could lead to frostbite or trench foot in some circumstances
- High temperatures and the risk of heat-related illnesses as temperatures reach the 70s and 80s in May and beyond in June, July and August
- Hail and the risk of injuries from hail impacts
- Flood risks
- Lightning storms and electrical hazards
Most employers put together a simple safety program to help teach employees about hazardous weather conditions and when they should stop working to head inside. For example, it’s not safe or advisable to work when there is lightning occurring if you are supposed to be completing a job outside. Most employers would ask that employees stop working and work inside, or at another site where the weather is not a concern, until the danger passes.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires written emergency action plans
Your employer should have an emergency action plan that includes what you need to do in the case of a weather-related emergency. If your employer has 10 or fewer employees, it’s okay for them to verbally communicate the rules to you, so long as you learn the plan.
Your employer may have specific rules about when to leave a worksite, when it’s safe to work in specific weather conditions and what to do if you or someone else is hurt.
Remember, if you are hurt as a result of your employer asking you to work in dangerous weather conditions, or even if you’re hurt when you thought you were safe in the conditions, it’s worth filing a workers’ compensation claim. You deserve support as you focus on healing from your injuries.