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Landscapers face severe occupational risks in winter months

Landscapers in Pennsylvania do not only work when the sun is out. The nature of their jobs offers them few tasks to do indoors, and winter storms often have them spending many hours outdoors addressing broken trees and other weather-related damage. If you work in this industry, you might benefit from learning as much as you can about cold stress and how to protect yourself.

Cold stress occurs when you work in near-freezing temperatures that cause a drop in your body temperature at a rate that is faster than what your body can produce. Exacerbating factors include wind, dampness and wetness, and even sweating under heavy clothing can cause a drop in your body's core temperature.

Hypothermia

If your body loses heat to a level below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you will be at risk of using up all the energy that your body stored, at which time, you might experience the following symptoms of hypothermia:

  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Possible death

The longer the exposure, the more severe the symptoms will be because the low body temperature will affect your brain and prevent you from recognizing the dire situation so that you can do something about it.

Trench foot

This condition is also called immersion foot, and it will affect you if you spend extended periods with your feet exposed to cold, wet conditions. Even at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you will be at risk if wetness remains. Look out for the following telltale signs of trench foot:

  • Leg cramps
  • Tingling
  • Reddening skin
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Blisters
  • Numbness

It might be smart to pack extra pairs of socks to replace wet ones during your shift.

Frostbite

This is a hazardous type of cold stress that could lead to amputations. Frostbite occurs when your skin and the underlying tissues freeze. If you do not wear warm clothes or have blood circulation problems, you will be at a higher risk. The most vulnerable areas include your earlobes, nose, fingers and toes. If you notice any of the following symptoms in these areas, you would be wise to react quickly:

  • Reddened skin
  • White or grayish patches developing on the skin
  • Aching
  • Tingling
  • Blistering
  • Loss of feeling

Avoid heating frostbitten areas with warm water or heating pads without medical presence because if the tissues freeze again, damage could occur that might lead to amputations.

Workers' compensation

If you suffered a cold stress injury during the recent cold months, you might be concerned about the adverse impact of all the medical bills and lost wages. Fortunately, an experienced Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney can assist with the benefits claims process while you focus on recovering and returning to work.

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