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How Cold is Too Cold? Tips to Protect Outdoor Workers in the Winter

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Today’s post was shared by the U.S. Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov

The weather is unpredictable, to say the least, this winter. I would add the following professions to the list of workers who have potential for problems with the cold but are out in the cold on a regular basis: truck drivers, agricultural workers, and as the picture implies, utilities workers, though the list is not exhaustive. It is a certainty that there are workers who are risking themselves in the cold because they aren’t ready for the “polar vortex” mentioned in the post because the weather has been so up and down this winter.

The NWS Windchill Chart is especially helpful, since it shows the amount of time it takes for frostbite to set in under a variety of temperatures and wind speeds.

Even though this corner of the Great Plains appears to be warming up a bit in the next couple of days, a fairly impressive snowstorm – there’s an 80 percent chance of snow on Tuesday with estimated accumulations of 5 to 8 inches – may be coming. So keep this information handy, and be certain to take care when working outside or sending employees to work outside.

Please be sure your loved ones are protected from the elements, whether they are outside by choice or necessity, during the winter.

Remember that work injuries associated with the elements are also covered under most states workers’ compensation laws, so speak with an experienced lawyer about questions regarding a specific situation.

winter_workThe National Weather Service is warning much of the country about the polar vortex, an arctic air mass that is pushing much of the eastern and central U.S. down to record cold temperatures.

During this wave, workers are at increased risk of cold stress. Increased wind speeds can cause the air temperature to feel even colder, further increasing the risk of cold stress of those working outdoors, such as:

  • Snow cleanup crews
  • Construction workers
  • Recreational workers
  • Postal workers
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Miners
  • Baggage handlers
  • Landscapers
  • Support workers for oil and gas operations

When the body is unable to warm itself, cold-related stress may result in tissue damage and possibly death. Four factors contribute to cold stress: cold air temperatures, high velocity air movement, dampness of the air, and contact with cold water or surfaces.

How cold is too cold?

A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature. Cold air, water and snow all draw heat from the body. The most common problems faced in the cold are hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

wind chill chart

What preventive measures should I take?

Plan for work in cold weather. Wearing appropriate clothing and being aware of how your body is reacting to the cold are important to preventing cold stress. Avoiding alcohol, certain medications and smoking can also help minimize the risk.

Protective Clothing is the most important way to avoid cold stress. The type of fabric even makes a difference. Cotton loses its…

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The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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