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Take the Stress out of Cold Stress

Working outdoors can be just as tough on the body during the winter as it is during the summer. While hot weather carries the risk of heat stroke, winter weather can result in cold stress. Cold stress is a condition that occurs when a person’s body can no longer maintain its normal temperature, resulting in serious injuries such as permanent tissue damage or death.

It’s important for employees and volunteers to understand the danger of cold stress when working outside in cold, wet or windy conditions to avoid injury and minimize the risk of claims. Here are 3 tips to take the stress out of cold stress during the wintertime:

Learn the Dangers of Cold Stress

Cold weather puts stress on the body, which must work harder to maintain temperature. As the surrounding cold air draws heat away, the body works to keep the chest and abdomen warm, shifting blood flow away from arms, legs, hands, feet and exposed skin. These areas of the body cool quickly, which can result in several serious cold stress conditions:

 

Know the Signs of Cold Stress

Serious cold stress risks such as hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot, all have telltale signs that are important to know.

Untreated, cold stress can lead to permanent tissue damage, loss of fingers or toes, and even death. If an employee or volunteer shows signs of cold stress, move them indoors to a warm, dry location. Remove and replace any wet clothing with dry clothing. Seek medical attention if the symptoms do not improve.

Protect Employees and Volunteers from Cold Stress 

To reduce the risk of cold stress injuries, it’s important to take steps to protect employees and volunteers. Follow these tips:

 

As long as safety procedures are observed, it’s safe to continue work outdoors, even when it’s cold, windy or wet. Cold stress injuries and claims can be minimized as long as employees and volunteers are educated about the risks, symptoms and steps to take in an emergency.