NWR : Legal Bees I have a work question….

posted 3 years ago in Legal
Post # 3
Member
1582 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@cupcakebride2013: I don’t work in legal, so take my opinion with a serious grain of salt, but don’t you have to… you know… go outside to get to work in the first place? I would imagine that if you have to spend 5 minutes outside on your way to the car and your way from the car, you can be outside for 5 minutes taking an order (unless it’s way more than that?).

And I wouldn’t assume you could claim worker’s comp. I mean, you could catch a cold anywhere, like on your way to your car at the end of the night. If you slipped or somethign outside the doors, that’s one thing, but…

Post # 4
Member
2657 posts
Sugar bee

Not a lawyer, but I deal a lot with employment-related issues (so, like the PP, take this with a grain of salt).  Do employees normally go outside to do curbside orders, or was this the first time it happened?  If employees are expected to go outside in all other conditions, I don’t think it would be considered too unreasonable here, although I’m sure it does suck a lot more than most days at work.  Now, if this was the first time this ever happened, that’s a whole different story.

For workers comp, I’d imagine that it would be very hard to prove.  You would probably have to prove that it was this exact instance that caused your illness, and not walking to your car to go home, running errands, or doing any other activities that day.  Unless you were forced to stay out for a prolonged period of time and that amount of time was abnormal compared to other work days, or if you weren’t allowed to wear a jacket or coverings by your employer, I think a workers comp claim would be very hard to prove.

Post # 5
Member
7098 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I’m sorry but I think that’s probably considered part of the job. I could see it being unreasonable if they were making you stand outside your entire shift, but I would think enduring some crappy weather conditions would be expected on a curbside take-out job.

Post # 7
Member
1768 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Yeah, you’re sol (I work in HR and am pretty well versed in employment/labor law and workers comp). Going outside is part of your job- if a customer wants to take his sweet time giving you the money or whatever, that sucks, but….it’s still part of your jov duties/functions. And not every job duty had to be listed in a job description. it just has to give a reasonable estimation of regular job reaponsibilities and is still able to change at any time. 

As far as workers comp goes, like PP said, you would have to prove that you got sick as a result of your job exactly. And…that’d be impossible. Abyway, workers Comp isn’t exactly a money tree- it’s all very regulated and formulated. Like if you lose your pinkie, you get 1k, but if its your thumb you get 5k because it’s more important. If for some strange reason you got workers comp for a cold, you’d probably get something like $100 at most. And you’d be laughed at.

Post # 8
Member
3170 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@cupcakebride2013:  Hey by any chance do you work at Buckheads? Random, I know. I just had a similar conversation with someone the other day. 

1) “Can they literally force me under extreme abnormal conditions?” 

   No. Slavery is illegal. They can fire you though.

2) I don’t see a Workers’ Comp claim here. Like a PP mentioned it would be really difficult to prove the illness was due being exposed to the cold weather. And at best you’d be looking at getting your medical bills paid which probably aren’t very much, and possibly some lost wages. 


Post # 10
Member
3989 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

You’re specifically a “carryout server” which implies to me, that you would be hired under the pretenses of going outside to deliver each order.  Therefore, I think it’s all apart of the job and you have no legal backing here.

Post # 11
Member
11740 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Unfortunately, going outside is part of your job, so I don’t think you have much of a claim there.  You also don’t have a workers comp claim.

For the record, being outside in the cold doesn’t make you sick. 

Does getting cold or wet cause colds?

The only thing that can cause a cold or flu is a cold or flu virus. Getting cold or wet won’t give you a cold. However, if you are already carrying the virus in your nose, it might allow symptoms to develop.
(http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/coldsandflu/Pages/Preventionandcure.aspx)

Post # 12
Member
689 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’m not a lawyer, or even in the US for that matter, so don’t take my advice as legal advice.  I do know a few things on work related safety issues.  From an OSHA search (which is the US regulation on health and safety) I found the following text:

 

 

 

How can cold stress be prevented?

 

Although OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, employers have a responsibility to provide workers with employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards, including cold stress, which are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to them (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970). Employers should, therefore, train workers on the hazards of the job and safety measures to use, such as engineering controls and safe work practices, that will protect workers’ safety and health.

 

Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Workers should be trained on the appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices to reduce the risk of cold stress.

 

Employers should provide engineering controls. For example, radiant heaters may be used to warm workers in outdoor security stations. If possible, shield work areas from drafts or wind to reduce wind chill.

 

Employers should use safe work practices. For example, it is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather. Employers therefore, can provide plenty of warm sweetened liquids to workers.  Avoid alcoholic drinks. If possible, employers can schedule heavy work during the warmer part of the day. Employers can assign workers to tasks in pairs (buddy system), so that they can monitor each other for signs of cold stress. Workers can be allowed to interrupt their work, if they are extremely uncomfortable. Employers should give workers frequent breaks in warm areas. Acclimatize new workers and those returning after time away from work, by gradually increasing their workload, and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment. Safety measures, such as these, should be incorporated into the relevant health and safety plan for the workplace.

 

Dressing properly is extremely important to preventing cold stress. The type of fabric worn also makes a difference. Cotton loses its insulation value when it becomes wet. Wool, silk and most synthetics, on the other hand, retain their insulation even when wet. The following are recommendations for working in cold environments:

  • Wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing. Layering provides better insulation. Do not wear tight fitting clothing.

  • An inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic to keep moisture away from the body.

 

  • A middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet.

 

  • An outer wind and rain protection layer that allows some ventilation to prevent overheating.

  • Wear a hat or hood to help keep your whole body warmer. Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head.

 

  • Use a knit mask to cover the face and mouth (if needed).

 

  • Use insulated gloves to protect the hands (water resistant if necessary).

 

  • Wear insulated and waterproof boots (or other footwear).

 

Safety Tips for Workers

  • Your employer should ensure that you know the symptoms of cold stress.

 

  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.

 

  • Dress properly for the cold.

 

  • Stay dry in the cold because moisture or dampness, e.g. from sweating, can increase the rate of heat loss from the body.

 

  • Keep extra clothing (including underwear) handy in case you get wet and need to change.

 

  • Drink warm sweetened fluids (no alcohol).

 

  • Use proper engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by your employer.

Additional Resources

 

Cold Stress. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

 

 

 

As I see it, your only case would be if you suffered from hypothermia/frostbite (not a cold) that being said, if you don’t feel that your workplace has informed you on safe work practices for doing your job in the cold then that is a different issue.  Hope this helps.

 

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