Many people in Ohio are used to the cold weather during the winter season. However, it is important to know that being used to the cold weather and working in this kind of weather is not the same. Working in sub-zero conditions can be very hazardous and cause workplace injuries for workers in Ohio.
Workers who are required to work in cold environments should be aware of the risks they face during the winter season and take steps to reduce the risk of cold stress injuries. Even workers who do not typically work in cold environments should know what cold stress injuries are and how to prevent them in Ohio.
Cold stress happens when a worker’s skin temperature declines due to outside weather conditions. When a person’s skin temperature reduces, it can eventually cause their internal body temperature to decrease too. Cold stress can cause very serious injuries and health problems, including death.
The most common types of cold stress injuries and illnesses are hypothermiand frostbite. All of these conditions should be taken very seriously so it is important to understand how dangerous these conditions can be.
Hypothermia is when a person’s body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced, causing their body temperature to drop. Hypothermia most often occurs in cold temperatures but it can also occur at cooler temperatures if a person is chilled from water. Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include loss of coordination, confusion, dilated pupils, slower breathing and loss of consciousness. It is vital to get medical help immediately if these symptoms occur.
Frostbite is another common cold stress injury. Frostbite is when the skin and tissue is frozen due to cold temperatures. Frostbite usually impacts a person’s feet and hands. Symptoms include numbness in affected area, blisters and reddened skin that develops patches.
Workers and employers need to be aware of cold stress injuries and make sure workers have proper protective clothing when working. It is also important for workers to receive adequate breaks so they can get out of the cold weather and stay dry and warm to prevent a cold stress injury.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “Cold Stress Guide,” Jan. 6, 2014