Working in a cold environment -- whether it be cold weather, cold water, or an indoor freezer -- is part of the job for many in the Carolinas, especially during this time of year. One of the major hazards you face when working in the cold is losing your body heat. If your body becomes so cold that it can no longer produce more heat than it loses, you are becoming a victim of hypothermia, frostbite or trench foot.
Hypothermia occurs when body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced and the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F), particularly if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Our workers' compensation lawyers in Greenville know symptoms of these conditions are relatively similar to just being cold -- and that's why it's important that everyone on your job site be able to point out these conditions and know what to do. Early symptoms of hypothermia include fatigue, shivering, confusion, disorientation and loss of coordination. Later symptoms include blue skin, no shivering, dilated pupils, slowed breathing, slowed pulse and a loss of consciousness.
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