When workers are exposed to the cold Ohio winters, their bodies have to work extra hard to maintain the temperature. Employers are responsible for protecting employees from the dangers of extreme weather conditions like cold stress. Precautions include allowing frequent breaks in warm areas and providing safety training to teach workers about cold stress symptoms. Establishing a buddy system whereby workers look out for each other is one way to mitigate the risks of cold stress in its various forms.
- When the worker’s body loses heat faster than it could produce it, hypothermia could result.
- The more prolonged exposure to extreme cold, the higher the body’s risk using up the stored energy that provides heat
- A body temperature that is too low affects the brain, which makes it difficult for workers to think and move well.
- Hypothermia could cause a loss of consciousness and even death.
- Frostbite occurs when body parts freeze.
- Symptoms include color change and the loss of feeling.
- Typical frostbite injuries involve toes and fingers.
- If not treated promptly, amputation might be necessary.
- Immersion foot is another term for this condition.
- Trench foot is caused by prolonged periods of working in wet and cold conditions.
- To maintain body heat in other areas, the body shuts down blood circulation to the feet.
- Toxin buildup occurs because of oxygen and nutrient starvation, which could lead to amputation.
Workers in Ohio who suffer any of the conditions caused by cold stress might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Medical bills are paid immediately, and workers who cannot return to work for more than just a few days will also receive a portion of lost wages. In severe cases that lead to amputation, workers might also receive occupational rehabilitation to prepare them for alternative employment options.