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How outdoor workers can prevent cold stress

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2018 | Workers' Compensation |

Residents of New Jersey should know about the dangers of working outdoors during the winter. Among the most common conditions that outdoor workers suffer from is cold stress. This occurs when the skin temperature and, eventually, internal temperature drops to the point that the body can no longer warm itself. Cold stress can lead to permanent tissue damage and even death.

There are three main types of cold stress, all of which are preventable. Hypothermia happens when body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Frostbite occurs when the skin freezes, and it’s especially deadly in those with poor circulation. Trench foot is caused when a workers’ feet are exposed to the wet and cold over a long period of time.

The wind chill factor has a large part to play in developing cold stress. Employers should therefore make sure that their employees are dressed properly for work. Furthermore, employees should look out for each other, working in pairs when possible, and be able to recognize the symptoms of cold stress. Common signs range from numbness to reddened skin and blisters. Workers should also know at what point they should seek medical help. Frequent breaks in a warm, dry place should also be provided.

Even when employers take all the necessary precautions, workers can suffer from cold stress. In such a case, an employee should report their injuries to their employer and file for workers’ compensation benefits. Hiring a lawyer can help streamline the process and ensure that the victim receives a fair amount. If the injury was caused because the employer provided insufficient training or little to no work breaks, then the lawyer may advise the victim to file a personal injury claim. The potential settlement could be higher; however, the worker will have to forfeit workers’ compensation benefits.