Cold Weather Injuries on the Job That Could Require You to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Many of us want to stay inside as much as possible during winter when it's snowing or bitterly cold. However, some workers don't have this luxury. Their jobs require them to work outside no matter what the weather. If you work in one of these professions, you're at risk of suffering serious cold-weather injuries when you're in the cold for too long. While you may recover quickly from a minor injury, you might need to take time off work if exposure caused a serious injury or illness.
Fortunately, filing a workers’ compensation claim could help you pay your medical bills and replace the income you lose as you recuperate.
Who Is at Risk of Suffering a Cold-Related Injury?
A surprising number of professions require working outside in cold temperatures. Employees in danger of injuries caused by exposure to cold temperatures include:
- Construction workers
- Snow removal staff
- Waste management and recycling workers
- Police officers
- Public transit workers
- Baggage handlers
- Power company workers
- Pipeline workers
What Injuries Can You Suffer From Exposure to Cold?
Exposure to cold temperatures, bitter winds, and dampness can cause a condition called cold stress, when a person’s body temperature is lowered to such a degree that the body cannot warm itself. In serious cases, this condition may lead to tissue damage or death. Common injuries that are caused by cold stress include:
- Hypothermia. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Hypothermia occurs when your temperature drops below 95 degrees, and you lose heat faster than your body can produce it. For every degree below 95, serious symptoms develop, such as slurred speech, trouble breathing, confusion, and loss of coordination. When the body temperature is lower than 85 degrees, severe hypothermia sets in, sometimes causing a person to lose consciousness. If the body temperature goes down to 78 degrees, a person could die.
- Frostbite. When the skin freezes, frostbite occurs. This commonly affects a person’s fingers, hands, toes, feet, earlobes, and nose. Signs of frostbite can include white or gray patches of skin, loss of feeling, tingling, and blistering. In extreme cases, the tissue can die, and amputation of the damaged body part may be necessary.
- Trench foot. Trench foot can be the result when a person’s feet are immersed in water over an extended period of time. The symptoms are similar to frostbite, but often less severe. In serious cases, a person can suffer permanent nerve damage.
If you must take time off of work due to any of these conditions, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.