Anyone working in sub-freezing temperatures should be aware of the dangers. Workers who are not used to working in the cold should know the risks and warning signs of cold exposure, but those who routinely work in the cold should remain vigilant about low-temperature safety and cold-relief techniques. Employees and managers should take hazards associated with cold exposure and cold stress seriously. If you suffered a cold stress injury at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
What is Cold Stress?
Cold stress is temperature-induced strain on the body of a worker exposed to the cold, especially outdoors. Working in the cold may take a certain amount of grit to withstand the temporary discomfort while performing necessary job duties. If you are not careful, forcing yourself or your team to endure unrelenting cold can cause serious health problems. When a person is in the cold for too long, the adverse effects can mean permanent physical damage or even death. Three common types of cold stress that cause serious damage are frostbite, trench foot, and hypothermia.
What is Frostbite?
Frostbite is a condition where the skin and underlying tissues are damaged due to prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures. Usually occurring in the hands and feet, frostbite in extreme cases can require amputation. As frostbite progresses, redness on the skin develops into gray or white patches as numbness sets in. The area can begin to harden and feel recognizably frozen. Severe instances may involve blisters as well.
What is Trench Foot?
Trench foot, or immersion foot, is an injury caused by feet being wet and cold for an extended period. Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. For this reason, trench foot is possible a temperatures much warmer than you might expect. Trench foot is caused when the body attempts to conserve heat by restricting circulation to the feet, thereby depriving the feet of oxygen and toxin removal, which can result in tissue death. Like frostbite, trench foot can involve redness, numbness, swelling, and blisters.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia affects the entire body, not just the extremities, as it occurs when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously low and cannot recover. Hyperthermia occurs when an extremely cold environment causes a person’s body temperature to drop below 95 degrees. Even when air temperatures are well above freezing, hypothermia can still occur if a person’s body temperature is lowered by other factors, such as immersion in cold water or surface wetness caused by rain or sweat.
Shivering is an obvious sign that someone is cold. As hypothermia progresses, however, shivering stops. The affected person may become disoriented or uncoordinated. Other symptoms involve the inability to walk or stand, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, and possible loss of consciousness. Hypothermia victims are at risk of death if they do not obtain proper medical attention.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Help Workers Obtain Compensation for Cold Stress Injuries
If you suffered a cold stress injury on the job, contact the Cherry Hill workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-761-3773 to arrange a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, and Pennsauken.