Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Risk of Work-Related Injury Cold WeatherDecember 14, 2016
When workers are exposed to extreme cold for a prolonged period of time, it can cause serious health risks, ranging from frostbite to hypothermia. In extreme cases, exposure can lead to fatality if the individual does not pay attention to the danger signs and seek immediate medical attention. Our Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers remind outdoor workers that preparation and the appropriate training can help protect their health and safety.
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees, which includes making sure that they are properly trained in how to recognize and effectively deal with cold stress. The following are steps employers can take to protect their workers from work-related illnesses and work-related injuries related to extreme cold:
- Recognize the conditions that can jeopardize your safety
- Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses so that you can act quickly and prevent the situation from escalating
- Educate and train workers about these types of injuries
- Urge employees to wear clothing that is appropriate for cold weather, including insulated gloves, a hat that covers the ears, insulated, water-proof boots, and multiple layers based on the specific conditions
- Encourage workers to take regular breaks so that they give their bodies a chance to warm up
- Assign work in pairs or teams so that fellow workers can help recognize danger signs
- Schedule outdoor work during the warmest part of the day
- Provide warm, non-alcoholic beverages to employees during breaks
- Monitor weather conditions and make sure all employees have a reliable mode of communication
Cold-induced injuries and illnesses can become dangerous quickly so they should be taken very seriously. The following are examples of some cold-related illnesses and how they should be treated:
Early symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and confusion. As the condition worsens, the victim’s pulse weakens and they may lose consciousness. It is crucial to seek medical assistance for an employee who displays any of these symptoms. Until help arrives, move him or her to a warm area, remove any wet clothing, and cover them with warm blankets, towels or sheets. If conscious, provide them with warm beverages to increase the body temperature. If the victim is not breathing, begin CPR.
Workers can have frostbite on a part of the body that is exposed to extreme cold. Frostbite can cause permanent tissue damage, and usually affects fingers, ears, noses, and cheeks. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, aching, and pale, waxy skin. Workers suffering from frostbite should immerse the affected area in warm water. Avoid rubbing frostbitten areas, or using heating pads or the heat from a fire for warming as it can cause more damage to the tissue.
Also known as immersion foot, this workplace injury occurs when feet are exposed to cold, wet conditions for a prolonged period of time. Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. The skin tissue on the foot begins to die as a result of poor circulation, lack of oxygen, and a buildup of toxic products. Symptoms include numbness, swelling, blisters, bleeding under the skin, and gangrene. Victims of trench foot should immediately remove shoes and socks, completely dry their feet, and avoid walking to prevent further damage.
This is another injury caused by repeated exposure to temperatures just above freezing and as high as 60 degrees F. Cold temperatures can cause permanent damage to the capillary beds, resulting in redness and itching, usually on the fingers, toes, cheeks, and ears. Workers should slowly warm the skin, keep any blisters clean and covered, and use a corticosteroid cream to relieve any itching and swelling.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Maximum Compensation for Victims of Cold-Induced Injuries
If you or a loved one has developed an illness or injury from exposure to the cold at work, the Baltimore Worker’s Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will fight hard to secure the benefits you deserve. We will take you through every step of the claims process and protect your rights every step of the way. For a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.