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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Workers' Compensation Claims Resulting from Cold Stress

Workers' Compensation Claims for Cold Stress Injuries

This past winter has been especially harsh for certain areas of the United States.  It has even been unusually cold for places not accustomed to severe and bitterly cold weather, like North Carolina. Workers who are exposed to the extreme cold or who may work in cold conditions may be at an increased risk of developing cold stress.  Near freezing temperatures are considered factors for “cold stress” and may lead to serious health problems.  Types of cold stress conditions include hypothermia, cold water immersion, frostbite, trench foot and chilblains.   Outdoor workers or those that work in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat may be at risk for these conditions.

Symptoms of hypothermia can include fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion and disorientation, blue skin, dilated pupils, slow pulse and breathing and a loss of consciousness.   If a worker is working in water, hypothermia can develop much more quickly and even occur in water temperatures that may not seem dangerous.  Frostbite is caused by freezing and a loss of feeling in affected areas.  Trench foot, also known as immersion foot, is an injury of the feet resulting from long exposure to wet and cold conditions.  Injury can occur because wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet.  Lack of oxygen to the skin tissue can cause the skin tissue to begin to die and build up toxins in the skin.  Chilblains are caused by repeated exposure to skin temperatures just above freezing to as high as 60 degrees F.   This is damage to the capillary beds in the skin and usually occurs on cheeks, ears, fingers and toes.

If you are a worker who has had an injury due to Cold Stress, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights.

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