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Why workers need to be on guard against 'normalization'

It might be the understatement of the decade to say that it has been a tough winter here in the Northeastern section of the U.S. Sadly, most of us have become accustomed to the sizeable snowfalls and frigid temperatures.

While it goes without saying that these kinds of brutal conditions can make a person's work life that much harder, experts indicate that it can also make it that much more dangerous.

Specifically, these safety experts indicate that those workers whose duties require them to perform at least some element of their job outdoors are always at an elevated risk of suffering work injuries when conditions are cold, snowy and icy.

However, they indicate that when conditions have been as continuously bad as they have this year, they are perhaps at an even greater risk due to a phenomenon known as normalization.

Normalization typically means that people are more willing to engage in more dangerous conduct or accept looser safety practices in the name of speed if they have heretofore not suffered because of it.

Alternatively, one author describes normalization as "the more people do something without suffering a bad outcome, the harder it becomes for them to remain aware of the risks associated with that behavior."

By way of illustration, consider workers whose jobs require them to work outdoors on ladders. Over the last few months, many may have started rushing toward the end of a task or overreaching in part because the weather is so cold that they don't want to be outdoors any longer than necessary and because they have done this for weeks without consequences.

Unfortunately, these workers are at an elevated risk of work injuries due to normalization. (If you don't believe it, statistics show that regions here in the Northeast have seen a dramatic uptick in the number of ladder falls over the last few months.)

What all this means is that even though we're finally nearing the end of this brutal winter, workers must make an effort to remain as safety conscious as they normally are over the coming weeks to ensure their continued welfare.

If you have suffered a serious work injury and would like to learn more about your options as they relate to workers' compensation, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: MedCity News, "Winter-related work injuries are more likely to occur at the end of a task," Nicole Oran, Feb. 20, 2015

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