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Avoiding Cold Weather-Related Injuries at Work

worker trying to stay warmAs temperatures drop as we get deeper into winter, the risk of cold-weather-related injury goes up, particularly in high-risk jobs where workers spend a lot of time outside.

Below, review some of the steps you can take to help reduce your risk of cold weather-related injury. If you suffer a wintertime work-related injury, schedule a free, no obligation consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys to find out how we may be able to assist you in pursuing compensation.

Tips on Clothing

Exposure to prolonged cold temperatures and winter weather conditions can lead to injuries and illnesses. Wearing proper clothing can help protect your body and keep you warm.

Here are some practical tips on clothing for cold weather:

  • Wear multiple layers of clothing to help insulate the body.
  • Wear fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin, such as wool, silk or synthetic materials. Avoid cotton, as it loses its insulating abilities when it takes on moisture.
  • Keep your hands warm with good gloves and have an additional pair in case your gloves become wet.
  • Help your body retain its heat with a hat that covers your head, ears and face.
  • Protect your neck, head, ears and face when you use the hood of your coat, jacket or sweatshirt.
  • Choose appropriate footwear for your working conditions, such as shoes or boots that provide good traction in snow or ice. Avoid tight shoes and boots that restrict circulation to your feet.

Practical Tips for Staying Warm on the Job

Besides wearing the proper clothing, there are several other things you can do to help stay warm and reduce the risk of cold weather injuries or illnesses:

  • Check the weather forecast each day before you go to work to properly prepare for the day’s conditions.
  • Keep your body dry, as it loses heat much faster when covered in wet clothing.
  • Eat warm foods high in calories to build energy reserves.
  • Stay hydrated with warm beverages. Do not consume caffeinated or alcoholic drinks.
  • Frequently take breaks in sheltered areas so your body can warm up.
  • Reduce wind chill and exposure to moisture by creating barriers around outdoor work areas.
  • Insulate areas of equipment that make contact with your body, such as handles.
  • Keep your cellphone on you while working so you can call for help if needed.
  • Always work in pairs and keep watch over one another for signs of exhaustion or cold stress.

Risks of Overexposure to Cold

Exposure to cold environments increases the risk of cold-related injuries and illnesses. During the winter season, outdoor workers are at a heightened risk of cold weather ailments such as:

  • Cold stress
  • Hypothermia
  • Frostnip and frostbite
  • Trench foot
  • Chilblains

Symptoms to Watch for

Watch yourself and your coworkers for symptoms of common winter weather injuries:

Hypothermia

Early symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation

Prolonged cold weather exposure creates hypothermia symptoms such as:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Blue skin
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Frostbite

Frostbite produces symptoms in the affected areas (commonly ears, cheeks, chin, nose, toes and fingers) including:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling/stinging
  • Aching
  • Reduced blood flow
  • Bluish skin
  • Pale, waxy skin

Trench Foot

Trench foot (also called immersion foot) occurs when the feet suffer prolonged exposure to cold, wet conditions. Trench foot symptoms include:

  • Numbness
  • Cramps in the leg
  • Reddened skin
  • Tingling
  • Swelling
  • Blisters/ulcers
  • Bleeding below the skin
  • Gangrene, which can cause blue, dark purple or gray discoloration of the foot

Chilblains

Chilblains occur when skin is exposed to temperatures above freezing, which causes damage to the skin’s capillary beds. Chilblains commonly affect the ears, cheeks, fingers and toes. This condition produces symptoms such as:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys If You Need Help

If you suffer a workplace injury this winter, the Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys of Berry, Smith & Bartell are available to discuss your workers’ compensation claim. We assist injured workers and fight to recover compensation for medical bills and lost wages.

Schedule a free, no obligation consultation today. We charge no upfront fees and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

For a free case evaluation with Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation call 1-800-848-6288 today!

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