If you work outdoors, you know that the winter months can be brutally cold in Ohio. From wind and temperatures near freezing to accumulating snow, you likely understand how difficult it may be to do your job in extreme elements. In many cases, snow and low temperatures are much more than just an inconvenience for you -- they may be a threat to your health.
One of the most common effects of working outdoors in the cold weather is suffering from the implications of cold stress. Employers have the responsibility of ensuring workers are safe, and this includes carefully monitoring those who work outdoors and providing support and training. The negative health effects of cold stress are preventable, and each worker deserves to know how to stay safe while doing his or her job.
What does cold stress mean?
Cold stress is a term used to describe the negative health impact that extreme temperatures can have. This is a particular concern for the workers who have job duties that require them to be outdoors some or most of the time. You may be at a higher risk for suffering from cold stress, and it may be beneficial for you to understand how the following risk factors can make it more likely that you could become sick or suffer an injury:
- Preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes
- Wearing improper clothing
- Damp conditions
- Poor physical condition
Any of these could make it more likely that cold temperatures could have an effect on your health. Fortunately, your employer can make it easier for you to be safe when working outdoors and avoid cold stress conditions, which include frostbite, trench foot and hypothermia.
Employers should train workers to recognize the signs of cold stress, as well as allow employees to dress appropriately for the cold. Depending on the type of job, they may provide radiant heaters to keep workers warm. They should also allow employees to take breaks and plan to work outdoors in the warmest parts of the day.
Staying safe in the winter
If you suffered due to cold stress or you suffer an injury on the job, you could have a rightful claim to financial support through a workers' compensation claim. You do not have to suffer the effects of your work-related illness or injury alone. Many workers find it beneficial to speak with a lawyer regarding their rights before moving forward with a claim.