Common Winter Hazards to Avoid on NYC Construction Sites

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

Winter is around the corner, which means construction sites will get even more dangerous for employees and visitors.

While we’re here for you if you get into an accident on a construction site, we’d prefer that people stay safe first and foremost. Thus, we wanted to go over some of the most common winter hazards.

Many of New York’s most tragic construction injuries and deaths happen during the colder months.

Cold Stress

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It’s important to stay warm in the winter. New York City temperatures can go as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Injuries can include frostbite and hypothermia. “Trench foot” is another common injury. It is an injury that occurs when feet and socks get wet during freezing conditions, shutting down circulation in the feet.

Dress appropriately, carry warming packs, and bring extra boots and socks to the job so you can change them if you need to.

Slips, Trips, and Slides

The icy conditions in New York City won’t just impact pedestrians during the colder months. Plenty of construction site workers have to worry about wet, slippery conditions on job sites as well. They can slip directly, but ladders can also slip.

Lay down plenty of de-icers, and wipe up wet spills before they freeze. Wear water-resistant boots, and be sure to wear safety lines at elevation. Carry smaller loads to avoid losing your balance. It’s a good idea to take shorter, smaller steps, too.

Falling Ice and Snow

Falling debris is always a concern at New York construction sites. Tools, materials, and random objects fall and strike people below all the time. Winter adds additional potential for falling object injuries.

Ice and snow can fall naturally, or they can be shoveled atop an unwitting victim. Either way, the result can be injuries and death. Snow can be heavy, and so can a large icicle that hits a head in just the right way.

Mark off worksite areas where falling ice and snow hazards might be a concern or where snow removal is about to begin.


Wielding a snow shovel can be dangerous if one isn’t careful. If you’re up on a roof shoveling near power lines, there’s always a chance the shovel will come into contact with the power lines and cause electrocution.

Be sure you are very conscious of where power lines might be during the shoveling process.

In addition, if you’ll be running heaters, power tools, or other electrical equipment, make sure all cords are kept clear from melting snow, and dry.

Snow Shoveling Injuries

Electrocution isn’t the only danger workers have to worry about when shoveling snow. It’s strenuous work. It’s easy to become dehydrated without noticing it, or to suffer back injuries.

OSHA recommends warming up before the activity, pushing the snow instead of lifting it wherever and whenever possible, and scooping smaller amounts of snow while using proper lifting techniques.

If you’re clearing snow from a roof, try using a long roof rake before getting up on what might be a high, slippery surface or by using the right type of equipment when rooftop work is unavoidable.

Driving Injuries

Driving injuries are more common in winter, and the potential for danger is just as high for construction equipment as it would be for cars. Roadway conditions can be hazardous.

If you’re going to be driving equipment, perform all relevant safety checks and make sure all systems are operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturer recommendations for winter weather.

Drive slower whenever possible, as it’s easier for vehicles to skid on icy roads.

Snow Blower Injuries

Snow blowers can get stuck or jammed. When that happens, you mustn’t clean the blower by hand. You should instead turn it off and wait for all the moving parts to come to a complete stop.

You can clear wet snow and debris with a long stick instead. Always wear safety glasses while operating or clearing a snow blower.

Normal Hazards

Normal construction site hazards don’t go away when winter weather strikes. Most of them just become more dangerous.

Be sure to follow all of the normal safety procedures you’d follow during any other time of the year.

Need help?

If you are injured during the winter months for any of the following reasons, you may be eligible for compensation above and beyond workers’ compensation.

  1. Your employer failed to follow safety procedures on the job site.
  2. A third party caused the injury or unsafe condition.
  3. You were injured in a vehicular accident.
  4. You were injured in a scaffolding accident.

Never assume you don’t have a case. We want to help you maximize your compensation. Contact us to schedule a free case review today.

In the meantime, stay careful out there, and stay safe!

See also:

What to Do If You’re Injured in a Construction Accident in NYC

When Does it Make Sense to Pursue a Construction Personal Injury Lawsuit?

How Do Scaffolding Injuries Happen?

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