3 Cold Weather Injuries that Can Affect Outdoor Workers & How to Prevent Them

November 26, 2015

With the cold temperatures of winter can come new risks for those who work outdoors. Understanding these risks, as well as what can be done to mitigate them, can be essential to staying safe on the job and kicking off the New Year injury-free.

To this end, below is an overview of the most common types of cold weather injuries that affect outdoor workers.

3 Most Common Cold Weather Injuries

  1. Cold weather injuries that common impact outdoor workers

    Cold weather injuries that common impact outdoor workers

    Trench foot occurs when extended exposure to wet, cold conditions constricts blood flow to one or both feet, causing tissue death (necrosis). If left untreated, trench foot can result in gangrene, possibly triggering the need for amputation. Common symptoms of trench foot include (but are not limited to):

    • Numbness in the feet
    • Inflammation of the feet
    • Itchiness and/or pain in the feet
    • Foot skin appearing red and blotchy or, when the condition is more advanced, blue to black in color.
  2. Frostbite develops when parts of the skin are exposed to extreme cold, either suddenly or overtime. In fact, while frostbite can develop over time as workers labor outdoors, it can also arise rather suddenly if, for instance, a worker comes into contact with dangerous cold metal. Common symptoms of frostbite include (but may not be exclusive to):
    • Tingling, blisters and/or inflammation in the affected area
    • Lack of sensation or a wood-like feeling in the affected area
    • Skin that appears to lack color and/or has yellowish or grayish tones.
  3. Hypothermia occurs when an individual’s core body temperature drops below 95˚F. Although hypothermia often results from exposure to freezing weather or conditions, it can also arise in non-freezing settings when, for instance, people may have wet clothing. Common symptoms of hypothermia include (but may not be limited to):
    • Intense shivering
    • Stumbles and fumbles as the cold impacts people’s nerves and muscles
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Disorientation
    • Weakened pulse
    • Lowered blood pressure
    • Delayed reaction times.

Those who tend to have the greatest risk of developing these (and other) cold weather injuries include older workers, those with alcohol problems and those who have circulatory issues.

Reducing the Risk of Cold Weather Injuries

Outdoor workers can significantly reduce their risk of cold weather injuries by dressing appropriately and remembering the following acronym:

  • Clean – Keep clothing clean.
  • Overheating – Avoid overdoing it with the clothing, as this can cause excessive sweating that can end up making clothing wet.
  • Layered – Wear layers so you can easily adjust your coverage with changes in your body temperature.
  • Dry – Keep clothing as dry as possible at all times.

Contact a Portland Workers Compensation Lawyer at the Savage Law Firm

If you have been hurt on the job or diagnosed with an occupational illness, you can rely on the Portland workers compensation lawyer at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help and aggressive legal advocacy.

To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.

Categories: Work Injuries, Workers' Compensation