As winter approaches, it is necessary for workers who work outside to be aware of the potential dangers caused by cold weather. Cold weather can lead to multiple cold-related workplace accidents and occupational illnesses. One of the primary dangers is cold stress, which is any form of stress that extreme cold weather causes either physically or mentally. Employers have a responsibility to take steps to keep their workers safe in the cold weather.
Specific Health Threats From Cold Weather
Two of the most noteworthy health threats caused by extreme cold weather are hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia refers to an abnormally low body temperature, as too much energy is expended attempting to keep the body warm. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering early on, fatigue, and disorientation. As hypothermia progresses, shivering will stop, and skin will begin to turn blue. Frostbite is caused by the freezing of parts of the body, usually the extremities. Symptoms of frostbite include numbness and tingling in extremities caused by restricted blood flow, along with bluish or pale skin in specific areas.
Damage caused by cold stress can come in several forms, including trench foot and chilblains. Trench foot is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to wet conditions. While trench foot can develop in warmer temperatures, there is a greater risk of the illness in cold weather. Chilblains are damage to the capillary glands just below the skin, caused by repeated exposure of skin to cold conditions. Symptoms include redness, irritation, itching, and possible blistering.
How to Stay Prepared
The most important way to be prepared for the cold is for companies to train their workers. This training can include the tips below.
- Recognizing conditions that could be dangerous.
- Understanding cold-based illnesses and signs.
- Wearing proper clothing – loose clothing in multiple layers.
- Frequently taking short breaks to avoid exhaustion or fatigue. Energy is important to keep the muscles warm.
- Working in groups so that workers can support one another and spot potential symptoms.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Represent Workers Injured
If you or feel that your company does not adequately provide these workplace safety measures in cold weather and have been injured as a result, then the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law can help. We serve clients throughout Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, Camden County, Burlington County, Salem County, Gloucester County, Cumberland County, and Atlantic County. Call our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices at 856-414-0010 or our Philadelphia offices at 215-426-4493 to schedule a free consultation, or submit an online form.