Risk Factors and Symptoms of Cold Stress

Winter temperatures in Michigan often dip below zero degrees. If you work outdoors in the cold environment, frostbite and hypothermia may result from exposure to these frigid conditions. At the Adler Firm, PLLC, we have experience representing clients who were injured while on the job.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, individuals who work in extreme cold temperatures may experience suffer from cold stress. Freezing conditions force the body to work harder to stay warm. When wind speed increases and temperatures drop below normal, heat leaves the body faster than usual.

Cold stress occurs when your body’s internal temperature lowers to skin conditions. Over time, blood flow is shifted away from hands, arms, feet and legs to keep the body’s core warm. It can cause tissue damage, severe health problems and death. Risk factors that contribute to cold stress include the following:

  • Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hypothyroidism
  • Exhaustion
  • Improper or insufficient clothing
  • Wet/damp conditions
  • Inadequate physical conditioning

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Mild symptoms are present if you begin to stomp your feet, rub your hands together or start to shiver. Moderate and severe symptoms include the inability to focus attention, lose coordination or be unable to walk or stand. If skin, which reddened due to the cold, develops gray or white patches, Frostbite is a possibility.

OSHA has hazard-specific health and safety standards. If an employer’s failure to comply results in injury or death, they may be liable. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.