Construction Workers at Risk for Injury During Cold Weather
01 January 2016IN: Personal Injury
The average temperature in Murfreesboro in January is just 36.8 degrees, and the average temperatures in February are only a few degrees higher. But daily temperatures can actually go much lower. For most of us, that means staying inside as much as possible or bundling up with a heavy jacket, a scarf and some mittens when we have to venture out. But construction workers have no choice but to be out in the cold, and bundling up with all those layers can make their job harder to do and slow down their productivity. Exposure during the harsh, winter months puts them at risk of what is known as “cold stress,” which refers to a number of health issues caused by exposure to the cold. Construction workers can experience cold stress as a result of prolonged exposure or as a result of a sudden drop in temperature or windchill.
Some health problems related to cold stress include:
- Your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, and all your available energy is used up. Hypothermia affects the ability to think clearly, which can cause you to stay in the cold longer and to become seriously ill or injured.
- Uncovered areas of the body, such as ears, nose, cheek, fingers and toes can become so cold that they lose sensation and circulation. If frostbite is left unchecked, the tissue can die and affected areas may have to be excised or amputated.
- Similar to frostbite, chilblain happens when the capillary beds in the skin become damaged. It can cause permanent damage, including redness and itchiness.
- Trench foot. If you walk through the snow, your feet can become wet and cold. That combination can cause the blood vessels to constrict and cut off circulation to the feet, causing the tissue to die.