Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as trench foot (prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, cold conditions), frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific cold stress guidelines and ‘Cold Stress Cards’, which provide a quick reference guide to recognize and prevent many cold-weather related illnesses and injuries. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers, workers and the public. To order copies of the ‘Cold Stress Card’, go to www.osha.gov or call (800) 321-OSHA.
OSHA offers these tips for keeping workers safe in cold weather:
- Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.
- Train all employees on the symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.
- Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
- Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system – work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
- Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.
Casey & Devoti is a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Together Partners Matt Casey and Matt Devoti have nearly 40 years of trial experience. They handle a variety of personal injury matters, including: car, truck and train accidents, victims of impaired and distracted driving, medical malpractice and birth injuries, product liability, slips/trips/falls, elder care and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death. Matt and Matt proudly serve clients throughout metropolitan St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, call the office today for a free, no-obligation consultation: (314) 421-0763.