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Avoiding injury while working in cold temperatures

Cold weather may be an issue for workers in North Carolina and other parts of the country. When temperatures drop, workers should be given access to shelter, hot drinks and other resources to keep warm while working outdoors. Ideally, a worker will be able to spend 15 minutes indoors for each hour spent outside. Workers can help themselves by wearing clothing that is breathable as to not cut off circulation.

Layering can also help to combat against the cold. Bringing extra layers may allow workers to put clothes on or take clothes off as weather conditions change. It is important that workers understand that the air temperature is only one variable that determines whether it is safe to work outdoors. Wind speed and moisture can also play a role in how long a person can be outside with exposed skin.

Frostbite is among the major health problems that workers could develop if they are outside in cold and windy weather. Frostbite occurs when skin freezes, which could lead to dead tissue and potential amputation. Workers are encouraged to use the buddy system to increase the odds that workers get the help that they need at the first sign of this or other medical emergencies. Those who get frostbite are discouraged from rubbing or wiping at the area as it could make the problem worse.

Individuals who are harmed because of unsafe work conditions may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Other relief may be available in cases where injuries occurred because of gross negligence on behalf of an employer. Regardless of why an employee is injured, he or she may be best served by reporting the injury as soon as possible. This may allow for timely treatment as well as start the process of obtaining benefits.

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