Winter weather can pose serious health concerns for workers in New Jersey, especially those with outdoor jobs. Cold weather is often accompanied by ice, snow, cold winds and other conditions that can pose a serious risk to workplace safety. While many people know that working in the heat can lead to heat exhaustion, working in the cold can also lead to hazardous stress on the body. Cold stress includes all of the potential effects of very low temperatures, including numbness, frostbite and hypothermia. Damp air and contact with cold water can exacerbate these symptoms.
It’s important that workers understand that shivering can be a symptom of serious cold stress. As the body’s temperature decreases, blood may flow away from fingers and toes, leaving exposed skin especially at risk for frostbite. Severe hypothermia can also develop with continued cold exposure, leading to brain damage and other serious injuries. Some workers are at greater risk than others, especially those who may be ill or less physically fit. Employees in agriculture, construction, food processing and fishing may be at the greatest risk for cold-related workplace injuries.
The effects of cold stress can also be accentuated in a workplace that does not value its employees’ safety. For example, workers without proper protective gear for cold environments may face serious dangers. Cotton garments can be dangerous for these workers while wool or synthetics provide better protection. OSHA also advises having extra clothes on hand in order to allow workers to change into dry garments in case of exposure to cold water.
Excessive cold can lead to severe workplace injuries that can have long-term health effects. However, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help injured workers to protect their rights and seek the compensation they deserve.