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How to prevent getting frostbite at work this winter

You may think that work injuries only come in the form of falls, disease, repetitive motion and the like. However, injuries from weather conditions are just as valid types of workers' compensation claims as others are.

For example, you may be at risk for sunburns in the summer and frostbite in the winter while working outside in extreme temperatures. You can prevent suffering from frostbite this winter with a little information and preparation.

The causes of frostbite

The first step to knowing how to prevent frostbite is understanding what causes it. The most obvious contributor is freezing weather, including wind chill, but it is not the only one. Making direct contact with frozen metal, ice or extremely cold liquids can also lead to frostbite.

Additional factors can increase your risk of experiencing frostbite, such as smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, high altitudes, diabetes, and previous frostbite. Ask your doctor if there is anything in your lifestyle or medical history that can raise your risk.

Frostbite prevention at work

Although your employer is accountable for your well-being, you can take steps to increase your personal safety. Wear the proper gear at all times when in cold temperatures, taking extra care to protect your extremities. Drink lots of water and avoid skipping meals. Make sure you are not outside too long, and change your clothing if you become wet or overly sweaty. Most important, watch for early signs of frostbite so you can receive immediate treatment before it gets worse. Red flags include numbness, reddened skin turning gray or white, hardness, and blisters. Do not attempt to warm the affected area through rubbing or submersion. Cover the area loosely and drink warm beverages until medical help arrives.

Do not underestimate the health effects of frostbite or other winter risks, such as hypothermia and trench foot. Without proper prevention and medical attention, you can experience long-term damage. If it happens on the job despite your precautions, speak to a workers' compensation lawyer about holding your employer responsible.

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