Illinois workers understand that autumn and winter weather can change in a heartbeat. One day it is sunny and warm, and the next day could bring strong wind and snow showers. Unfortunately, numerous occupations require workers to perform job tasks no matter how cold and slippery the environment is.
While experts regularly caution workers about the hazards of summer heat, generally the warning of dress warm is the only thing winter workers hear. Construction workers, utility workers or other employees who must perform job tasks outside in the elements must be aware of the multitude of dangers they face, including:
- Hypothermia: When workers are exposed to extremely cold temperatures for a prolonged period, hypothermia sets in. This condition refers to the body no longer having the energy necessary to produce heat. Hypothermia can lead to dizziness, sluggishness, uncontrollable shivering and memory loss.
- Frostbite: Workers often face frostbite in their extremities while on the job. Fingers, toes, ears and the nose are all at risk for this type of exposure injury. In these situations, the soft tissue freezes and slowly dies as a result, often requiring amputation.
- Trench foot: When the worker’s feet are left in cold, wet conditions for a prolonged period of time, they could potentially develop trench foot. This condition can ultimately lead to numbness, cramps, blisters and painful itching. Untreated, the tissue could die and begin to fall off.
With cooler temperatures already here and winter right around the corner, it is wise for workers to stay warm and be aware of the dangerous conditions they face. Keeping warm and dry and taking the necessary breaks are essential to reducing the potential danger of cold weather injuries. Those who have suffered an injury or worsening condition due to work responsibilities are encouraged to explore their legal options for monetary compensation.