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Workplace illness: Cold stress threatens outdoor workers

At the start of every winter, New York workers who have to work outdoors will likely feel anxious about the impact their work environments will have on their health. Cold stress is a workplace illness that can be fatal if not treated promptly. This condition is caused by the environmental cold that affects workers who are exposed to air temperatures that are also cold. Cold stress risks are even higher when wind speeds increase because it increases the chill factor by making the air temperature feel colder against the skin.

Workers who are frequently at risk of suffering cold stress include snow cleanup crews, recreational workers, construction crews, firefighters and police officers. Other occupations in which workers are typically exposed to extreme cold include transportation, baggage handlers, transit workers, oil and gas industry support workers and landscapers. However, many other workers spend long hours exposed to environmentally cold conditions.

The most prevalent risk factors that could cause cold stress include improper clothing, dampness, wetness and exhaustion. Furthermore, a worker's existing health condition will also play a role in his or her risk level. Predisposing hypertension, diabetes and hypothyroidism will significantly increase a worker's chances of suffering cold stress. Hypothermia, trench foot and frostbite are all types of cold stress that can cause long-term health problems, and in severe cases, it can be fatal.

New York employees who are suffering the consequences of exposure to environmental cold that led to cold stress will likely have to cope with mounting medical bills. Furthermore, they might even have to deal with lost wages if the workplace illness caused days off work. With the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney, financial assistance may be pursued by filing workers' compensation benefits claims.

Source:, "Cold Stress", Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017

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