Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers: Workers at Risk in Cold Weather
January 25, 2016
Construction workers who are exposed to the elements during the winter are at risk for “cold stress.” Cold stress refers to any type of health emergency caused by exposure to cold weather conditions. When temperatures drop below normal and wind speed picks up, heat exits the body very quickly and can result in serious health conditions. The effects of cold stress can be felt even in near freezing temperatures if a person is not accustomed to the cold. Workers tend not to recognize or report health conditions caused by cold stress.
Cold-Related Health Problems
Common conditions caused by prolonged or unprotected exposure include:
- Hypothermia – When exposed to extreme cold, your body loses heat faster than it can be produced. Eventually, all your body’s stored energy will be used up. This can affect the brain, making it difficult to think clearly. Coordination is negatively affected. People experiencing hypothermia may not be able to respond and take action to protect themselves.
- Frostbite – Common in the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes, frostbite causes a loss of sensation. Severe cases may require amputation of the affected extremity. Those with reduced blood circulation are particularly susceptible.
- Trench foot – When your feet remain wet and cold for a prolonged period of time, your body will constrict blood vessels and shut down circulation to your feet. Skin tissue may begin to die due to the lack of blood flow.
- Chilblain – Capillary beds in the skin become damaged by repeated exposure of the skin to temperatures just above freezing. Damage is permanent, causing redness and itching that appears with new exposure.
How to Prevent Cold Weather Injuries
Construction workers are at particular risk for injury in the cold. In order to stay safe, consider the following:
- Use portable heaters where feasible
- Wear protective clothing, including waterproof boots
- Keep first aid supplies and a list of emergency numbers available
- Keep track of the temperature and weather forecast
- Use a “buddy system” to recognize symptoms of hypothermia
- Go to a heated area during breaks
- Drink plenty of warm liquids, including soup, broth, coffee or tea
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Workers Harmed By Cold Exposure
When a construction worker suffers from hypothermia, confusion and loss of coordination can result, increasing the risk of injury. If you were injured on-the-job due to an accident or exposure to the cold (including frostbite, trench foot, etc.), Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.