The recent cold snap highlights the risks faced by those working outdoors, and the fact that Georgia employees are not immune. As far south as Naples, the temperature has dropped into the 30s. Some municipalities have opened emergency shelters. Employees may be at increase risk of a Georgia work accident or injury while on the job.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys understand the risks. In fact, many Georgia employees and residents may be at higher risk, even at milder temperatures. Many work crews lack the proper equipment to work in the cold, are not accustomed to freezing temperatures, and lack the knowledge necessary to stay safe in frigid weather.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cold stress may set in at temperatures above freezing, particularly in warmer clients where employees may be unaccustomed to dealing with frigid temperatures. Near freezing temperature and increasing wind speeds can cause rapid heat depletion from the body. Those most at risk are employees without shelter, outdoor workers and those working in buildings without proper insulation, such as metal fabricated shops, barns or warehouses.
Hypothermia can occur when the body loses heat faster than it can be reproduced. Prolonged exposure to cold saps the body of energy stores and the ability to maintain core body temperature. Hypothermia sets in when low body temperature begins to affect the brain. Thinking and movement begin to slow. And the risk of external injury increases as well as the health consequences associated with hypothermia.
Symptoms include shivering and loss of concentration and coordination. Ultimately, slowed pulse, breathing and loss of consciousness may result.
Frostbite is caused by freezing; symptoms include a loss of color to the affected area. Ears, nose, fingers and toes are most often affected. Severe cases can require amputation.
Trench foot occurs with lengthy exposure to cold and wet conditions. It can occur in temperatures as high as 60 degrees in wet conditions, which exacerbate heat loss.
Employers can do their part to help prevent injury to workers due to cold-weather working conditions.
-Schedule outdoor tasks for the warmer parts of the day, or year.
-Reduce the demands on workers by using relief workers, reducing workload, etc.
-Provide plenty of liquids and plenty of rest.
-Monitor workers for fatigue or other adverse symptoms.
-Provide proper training, first aid and preventive measures.
Employees should wear proper clothing, dress in layers and avoid tight-fitting clothing, which can reduce blood flow and circulation. Particular attention should be paid to protecting ears, face, hands and feet. Waterproof and insulated boots are ideal.
Workers should also take plenty of breaks in a warm location, limit the amount of time spent outdoors and drink plenty of liquids.
If you or someone you love suffered a work injury in Georgia or needs to file a disability claim in Atlanta or the surrounding areas, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.
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