The earlier workers are prepared for cold weather, the better. Even with safety products such as insulated, waterproof work boots, warm work gloves, and protective clothing, cold weather can be dangerous. Here are some of the most common problems that workers in cold temperatures face, as well as basic first aid to perform while you wait for medical professionals to arrive.
• Symptoms of frostbite include tingling and stinging sensations that are quickly followed by numbness
• Frostbite can be identified by bluish or pale, waxy skin, which results from slowed blood flow
• The CDC recommends that frostbite victims be immediately moved indoors
• Affected body parts should be placed in warm (but not hot) water
• Massaging and rubbing frostbitten body parts is not recommended
• This condition results from the body's temperature dropping so low that it can no longer regulate itself
• Symptoms include slow movement, confusion, and loss of coordination
• According to the CDC, workers afflicted with hypothermia should be brought into a warm area immediately
• The torso of a person who is suffering from hypothermia should be warmed first, with blankets, clothes, or towels
• Warm beverages may help if the person is conscious
The best defense for frostbite and hypothermia is to take frequent breaks from the cold. Employers should allow workers to step inside or get warm near a heat source before returning to work in cold-weather conditions.