What Is Cold Stress?
Cold stress is what happens when people are exposed to freezing or cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. It can cause severe, permanent health problems. Many construction workers who are exposed to extreme cold are at risk. In warmer regions of the country, near freezing temperatures are enough to bring on cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop below normal, heat can more rapidly leave your body, putting you at risk of injuries.
What Can Happen to Me?
Cold stress can result in health problems including trench foot, frostbite, hypothermia, and can even be fatal. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, clumsy or uncoordinated movements, fatigue, and confusion. If you are working outdoors in the cold and experience any of these symptoms, seek help immediately. Watch people you are working with for these symptoms as well. Due to the confusion that sets in with cold stress, a worker may not realize that they are in trouble.
How Can I Protect Myself From Cold Stress?
- Secure all construction equipment, and keep a close eye on weather conditions. If you are using ladders, lifts, or machinery, make sure that you are not resting them on an icy, slick surface.
- Wear protective clothing. Employers should provide their employees with personal protective equipment (PPE), when required by OSHA standards. Workers are responsible for providing their own “ordinary” clothing, such as winter coats, jackets, gloves, waterproof boots and hats. Wear at least three layers of clothing to provide better insulation. All fabric should be breathable to prevent overheating. Clothes that are too tight can reduce blood circulation, increasing the risk of frostbite.
- Monitor your physical condition regularly, perhaps by setting a regular “alarm” on your phone. Carefully observe your coworkers as well. You may want to discuss it with them and use a buddy system.
- Keep extra clothes on hand in case you get wet.
- Drink warm liquids, such as soup, coffee, or tea.
- Use proper engineering controls. For example, radiant heaters can be used to warm outdoor security stations. Employers should do their best to shield work areas from the wind.
- Use safe work practices at all times.
- Take frequent breaks in warming or drying shelters.
Chester County Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Seek Maximum Compensation for Victims of Construction Accidents
The cold weather often means an increase in construction accidents due to dangerous icy working conditions. If you are injured in a construction accident, we can help. A third party may be liable if defective equipment caused the accident. The experienced Chester County construction accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC know how to identify the responsible parties. To schedule your free consultation today, call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online.