What is Cold Stress?
Cold stress is a condition that can affect anyone, including employees who are exposed to extreme cold or who work in extremely cold temperatures daily. Working in or being exposed to extremely cold environments can lead to serious, life-threatening illnesses and conditions. If you or someone you know suffered from cold stress, you may be eligible for compensation.
Cold stress occurs when cold temperatures drive down your skin’s temperature, as well as your body’s internal temperature. This results in your body being unable to warm itself. When this happens, it can lead to serious cold-related illnesses and injuries, which may lead to permanent tissue damage and even death. Factors such as cold temperatures, heavy or cold wind, cold water, and dampness contribute to individuals developing cold stress.
Types of Cold Stress
Cold stress conditions include:
- Frostbite: Frostbite is a condition in which the skin and tissues are frozen. It typically affects the face, ears, fingers, and toes. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the body and often results in amputation.
- Hypothermia: Hypothermia occurs when the normal body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Although hypothermia is more likely to occur in extremely cold temperatures, it can also occur at cool temperatures. Hypothermia is a deadly condition if left untreated.
- Immersion/trench foot: Trench foot is a condition that is not caused by a freezing foot injury. The condition is caused by prolonged feet exposure to wet and cold conditions.
How to Prevent Cold Stress Injuries
Working in extremely cold conditions always presents a risk. However, there are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Dress properly for the winter and wear protective clothing. Wool is a better option than cotton because it retains its insulative qualities even if it gets wet. Some other tips for dressing properly include:
- Wearing at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing
- Wearing a hat or a hood, as hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head
- Protecting your hands by wearing insulated gloves
- Wearing insulated and waterproof boots
- Recognize cold stress symptoms, which can include numbness and blisters, reddened skin, and pain. Employers should be sure that their employees are trained to recognize these symptoms and what to do about them.
- Drink warm, sweetened fluids and avoid consuming alcohol.
- Keep extra clothing handy in case you need to change.
What Employers Can Do to Protect Workers
Employers are responsible for their employees. If employees are working in extremely cold environments, employers can protect them by:
- Rotating workers so that no one is exposed to cold temperatures for too long
- Scheduling work at the warmest times
- Providing training
- Utilizing heaters and windbreakers
- Keeping a first aid kit on hand
- Implementing a buddy system
Wilmington Work Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Clients Suffering from Cold Stress Injuries
If you or someone you know suffered a workplace injury, contact a Wilmington work injury lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. Our experienced lawyers will fight to obtain you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 302-427-9500. Located in Milford, Wilmington, and Bear, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Elsmere and Seaford.