Working In The Cold

As cold weather continues to emerge, public administrators (police officers, firefighters, etc.) and other outside-working personnel are at high risk of cold stress that can lead up to Hypothermia, Frostbite and Trench Foot. It is important for both employers and employees to understand cold stress and its risk factors, symptoms and prevention measures as well.

Cold stress is the loss of body heat as your internal body temperature continues to decrease. If you are dressed too lightly and parts of your body are wet or damp, these are some crucial risk factors that attribute highly to cold stress. Exhaustion, numbness and disorientation are some key symptoms of the illnesses and injuries that are associated with cold stress.

If you are starting to shiver, lose your ability to effectively coordinate your body movements and stand, and begin to feel confused, that most likely means that you are suffering from hypothermia. If areas such as your hands and nose are starting to redden and develop grayish white patches alongside extreme numbness and firmness, those are symptoms of frostbite. Trench foot is more specific to your feet, so if you are noticing redness, blisters and swelling then it is most likely that you may be experiencing trench foot.

(CDC) (OSHA)

Action Steps:

Be prepared for your circumstances. Look at weather reports and prepare beforehand. Learn about the symptoms that are associated with cold stress. Wear several layers of clothing and ensure that the most sensitive areas of your body are covered without obstructing your coordination or your sight.

When working, make sure that you are monitoring your coworkers’ conditions, as well as your own. Compassion and kindness towards one another’s physical conditions can help you and your coworkers, so make sure that you are attentive to your surroundings as well.

Try to stay as dry as possible and drink lots of warm, sweet fluids. Make sure to take breaks every couple of times in an inside warm area to ensure that your body is recovering some of the lost heat. If the weather is getting too cold, try to end your work early if the situation allows. Your health and wellbeing are a top priority.

Stephanie SullivanComment