As cold weather conditions arise, you may become more vulnerable to frostbite while working outdoors. Frostbite refers to a form of skin damage in which the underlying tissue freezes, sometimes leading to permanent numbness and, in severe cases, amputations of impacted extremities. It’s caused by prolonged exposure to low temperatures or by brief exposure to excessively frigid or wet conditions. Certain individuals are more susceptible to developing frostbite than others, including older employees and those with circulatory problems. People who have diabetes are also at a greater risk. Nevertheless, anyone could experience frostbite if they fail to take the proper precautions. That’s why it’s important for you to understand what frostbite looks like and how to prevent it as you work outside throughout the winter.
Symptoms of frostbite may include partial or complete numbness, discoloration of the skin (e.g., paleness or redness) and burning or tingling sensations. If left untreated, frostbitten skin gradually darkens after a few hours. Skin destroyed by frostbite is completely black and looks loose and flayed, as if burnt. To reduce your risk of frostbite while working outdoors, it’s vital to protect your hands, feet, nose and ears. Be sure to wear a hat and gloves and bundle in layered and warm clothing when heading out into frigid weather. At the first signs of redness or pain in your skin, which may indicate that frostbite is developing, inform your supervisor and get out of the cold. By taking these steps, you can stay safe this winter.
The winter months are notorious for bringing sickness. Influenza (flu) season begins in October and peaks between December and February. Colds are also more common during the season. Further adding to the mix of potential wintertime illnesses, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (or RSV) are swiftly circulating in the United States. Viruses transmit more effectively in cold and dry weather, increasing your chances of coming into contact with sickness. And as cold weather drives people indoors, you’re more likely to be in close contact with someone who isn’t feeling well. Here are some tips for keeping yourself healthy on the job during the winter months:
Talk to your supervisor for more information on combatting winter illness.
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