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Cold Temperatures Can Be Dangerous for Workers

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

Cold Temperatures Can Be Dangerous for WorkersThe cold weather that is typical of winter in northern Illinois is more than an inconvenience for workers. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause severe or even fatal damage. In some cases, people will suffer permanent damage that creates a disability. Workers can take precautions to protect themselves against the cold, but employers also have a duty to protect their employees. If you have suffered damage due to being exposed to the cold while working, you can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Cold Stress Injuries

As your body temperature drops when you are continuously cold, your body will work to warm itself. Your body prioritizes keeps your organs warm and functioning, which means that your extremities receive less blood flow and are at greater risk of cold stress conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is the freezing of the skin and tissue, which can cause neuropathy in or require the amputation of:

  • Fingers
  • Toes
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Ears
  • Nose

Trenchfoot is a less severe form of frostbite that can cause blistering and an itching or burning sensation. Hypothermia is an extreme drop in body temperature that can be fatal if not treated. The long-term effects of hypothermia can cause stress to the heart, which is particularly serious for people with pre-existing heart conditions.

Work Risks

People who work outdoors during the winter are at the greatest risk of cold-stress injuries, but indoors workers can also be at risk if the building temperature is consistently at 50 degrees or lower. People who are older or who take certain medications may be more vulnerable to the cold. All workers can take steps to prevent cold stress injuries by:

  • Dressing appropriately for the weather, including wearing layers and covering their head and hands
  • Alerting their employers if heating equipment in their company vehicle or building is not working properly
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can diminish their ability to stay warm
  • Removing clothing that becomes wet and replacing it with dry clothing
  • Watching for signs of cold stress in themselves and their co-workers

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Workers’ compensation insurance should cover bodily damage from cold stress as long as you can prove that it was your work that exposed you to the cold temperature. You can receive long-term disability benefits if your injury caused you to lose or lose function in parts of your body. A McHenry County workers’ compensation lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will help you prove that your cold injury is connected to your work. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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