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Workers deserve proper protection against cold stress injuries

Construction workers in Missouri face multiple hazards when working outside during the winter. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes regulations to ensure workplace safety and expects all company owners to act in accordance with the rules. Unfortunately, delays bring about penalties, and expectations of employers often put workers at risk of suffering injuries related to extreme weather conditions.

When precautions are not taken to protect workers they may fall victim to cold stress. This is the collective term for injuries such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. When a worker's body temperature drops to below 95 degrees, he or she may become confused and start shivering. These are symptoms of hypothermia, which can lead to unconsciousness and ultimately death.

Wind chill can contribute to the hazards of cold weather, and, even at temperatures above freezing, workers may experience blistering of the skin and develop hard white or gray patches on their hands and feet. This is a sign of frostbite, which means the freezing of hands and feet and can have severe consequences. Trench workers often suffer constantly wet feet, and, even in temperatures up to 60 degrees, they may suffer trench foot. This can cause numbness, blisters and swelling.

Missouri workers who have suffered any of the conditions related to cold stress may have incurred medical expenses. Workers' compensation offers workers the opportunity to claim compensation for medical expenses, along with lost wages due to work-related injuries. Some workers choose to utilize the experience of a workers' compensation attorney to guide them through the required procedures to pursue fair compensation.

Source: constructiondive.com, "Cold weather? No problem for hardy construction workers -- most of the time", Sharon O'Malley, Jan. 13, 2015

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