Workers that are required to work outside in the cold can suffer a number of cold stress workplace injuries.
Worker injuries can manifest even in the simplest of ways, yet they can have severe consequences. Common cold stress injuries and related complications can affect workers, especially those working in cold working conditions or in frigid climates. Cold stress injuries can even affect workers in warm climates.
What are Cold Stress Injuries?
Cold stress injuries affect workers who are exposed to or have repeated exposure to freezing or frigid work environments. Those who work outdoors in a freezing climate, or those working in cold storage or meat packaging industries, are most commonly affected.
Some common cold related injuries include:
- Hypothermia – Hypothermia occurs when the temperature of the body drops dangerously low. It affects workers working in sub-zero, or even near-zero degree conditions. Moreover, high winds, precipitation coupled with moisture and sweating can also cause hypothermia. Dilated pupils, disorientation, loss of coordination, dilated pupils and severe fatigue are symptoms of hypothermia. Hypothermia can be dangerous as it can occur without any warning signs and if left untreated, it can result in a coma.
- Trench Foot – Trench Foot is a condition where the blood vessels in the foot constrict causing death of healthy skin tissue. It can lead to gangrene and possible amputation of the foot. Trench foot affects those who work in conditions where the feet remain wed and damp for days. Trench foot was first observed among World War I soldiers who spend days with their feet immersed in wet and cold trenches.
- Frostbite – Frostbite occurs when the body’s tissues freeze in frigid conditions, causing loss of blood circulation and permanent damage from ice crystals. The symptoms of frostbite are pain or tingling, numbness or waxy skin in the affected area. If left untreated, severe frostbite can often lead to amputation.
- Chilblains – Chilblains, a painful disease, occurs when the capillary beds of the skin get damaged due to cold weather. The affected area develops redness and itching that recurs on re-exposure to cold climatic conditions. Chilblains, in extreme cases causes blistering and ulcers.
Claiming Compensation Benefits for Cold Stress Injuries
Cold stress related injuries are most commonly found among workers who work in cold climates like construction workers, dock workers, first responders, workers working indoors in freezing temperatures like cold storage plants, meat packaging companies, etc. Workers working in locations where winter temperatures drop below freezing are also affected.
Cold stress related injuries are often not taken seriously by employers. Dismissing them as minor injuries, claims are often declined. However, cold stress related injuries can be debilitating, especially if loss of limbs or amputation occurs. In such cases, workers should seek the assistance of worker compensation lawyers, who are qualified, trained and experienced in handling cases of cold stress injuries.
The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
If you or a loved one have been injured at work due to a cold stress injury, contact the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form.
Our legal team has a strong history of helping injured workers get the medical attention and financial compensation that they need. Based in St. Louis, and handling workers compensation and personal injury cases throughout the State of Missouri, our law firm will ensure that your rights are protected.