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Arkansas OSHA Cold Stress

Posted by Tamara

For Arkansas employees who work outdoors in industries such as construction, snow removal, utilities, roadwork, and agriculture, special precautions must be taken in order to prevent illness or injury.  It is important that employers be aware of the various hazards that are posed by cold weather in the workplace.

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, released an alert that detailed the steps that employees should take in order to avoid injury.  Some of the hazards that are posed by working in cold weather include frostbite, trench foot, cold stress, and hypothermia.

Hypothermia and cold stress can occur when temperatures are as high as 50 degrees.  When cold stress occurs, it is because the body has become unable to warm itself sufficiently.  When serious injury results because of this, it is usually because of windy or wet conditions, or low temperatures.

Employers should know that if workers are standing in water, or are submerged, hypothermia could occur if the water temperature is below 98.6 degrees.

Cold stress can overtake a worker on a gradual basis.  Employees should always work in pairs so that they can each watch out for signs of cold-related illness.  Cold stress, if left untreated, can advance to hypothermia, which can be life threatening.

Hypothermia occurs when the normal body temperature falls to 95 degrees or below.  Hypothermia symptoms can include slurred speech, uncontrolled shivering, clumsy movements, fatigue, and drowsiness.  If someone is suffering from hypothermia, he or she might also have a cool and slightly blue appearance to the skin.  Victims might also be irrational, confused, or irritable.

Emergency help should be called for right away if a worker is exhibiting any of these symptoms.  While waiting for help to arrive, keep the injured person in a warm, dry area if possible.  Also, try to wrap him or her in warm blankets.

Hypothermia sufferers should drink sweet, warm beverages like heated sports drinks or sugar water.  Any beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, should be avoided.  The reason is because they can slow the warming process.

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