Working in freezing weather without the right gear can put you in risk of many health and safety incidents. One of these potential dangers to keep watch for is frostbite.
The first thing we always want to consider is how to prevent an incident from the beginning. Some things you can do to ensure your safety are:
Know the risks
Equip yourself for the situation
KNOW THE RISKS
Knowledge is power and the it could mean the difference in having the ability to continue to perform the work your job requires.
In the case of frostbite one very useful thing to keep track of is the weather.
Install a weather app on your phone or look ahead at the hourly forecast for the next day to keep one step ahead. While weather forecast technology allows our foresight to be more and more specific I think we have all headed out expecting sunshine to find ourselves looking for shelter from a passing rainstorm.
Be sure to be equipped at work for the weather. Wear lots of layers. Overprotection is better than discomfort, pain and injury.
It can be easy when work is busy and you’re focused to lose track of what you’re feeling. It’s very important that you keep in tune with your body. You may have more than enough clothing but you’re socks are too tight and are cutting off your circulation.
A simple fix could make all the difference.
If you’re in a situation where frostbite is a risk it’s important that you know what to look for. The following are some indicators that you need to warm up.
cold skin and a prickling feeling
Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin
Hard or waxy-looking skin
Clumsiness due to joint and muscle stiffness
Blistering after rewarming, in severe cases
See a medical professional for symptoms such as:
Increased pain, swelling, redness or discharge in the area that was frostbitten
New, unexplained symptoms
Be aware that diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption, dehydration, elevated altitude and exhaustion can cause you to be less likely to pick up on symptoms.
Severe cases may lead to hypothermia and feverish symptoms.
Frostbite can also lead to serious muscular, nerve, or even skeletal damage.
WHAT TO DO
It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you feel you may have frostbite. Warming of the tissue is important but is best done slowly and under medical supervision when possible.
For more information about frostbite and cold weather injuries check out this page at the Red Cross website