Working in cold weather has always come along with potential risks. The colder the weather, the more extreme these risks tend to get. However, it is possible to suffer from cold injuries even in weather between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thus, it is important to understand what cold injuries are, what can cause them, and the harm they can potentially wreak on your body.
Cold stress on the body
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration examines cold stress and the related injuries that may stem from it. Cold injuries happen when your body temperature drops or your skin suffers from prolonged or intense exposure to cold and/or wet conditions. Some of the resulting injuries can be quite serious, resulting in everything from amputation to death.
Trench foot and frostbite could both potentially lead to amputation or complications that could put your life at risk. Trench foot occurs when your feet are wet and cold for a prolonged period of time. It results in redness, swelling, leg cramps, blisters, numbness or more, and can eventually lead to tissue death. Frostbite involves exposed skin literally freezing, which can lead to cell death and necrosis. This can put the affected limbs at risk for amputation.
Cold injuries and hypothermia
These injuries can also contribute to hypothermia, a condition that sets in when your body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or below. At this temperature, you can experience confusion, dizziness, paradoxical undressing, slurred speech and eventual unconsciousness.
With any cold injury, it is important to get immediate medical attention to avoid long-term damages from occurring. The healing process can take a while and will likely cost you, prompting those who suffered from an injury to seek financial compensation.