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Working in the cold in Ohio? Beware of the increased danger to your safety

If you live in northern Ohio, you expect the winter to get cold. That means bundling up when you head outside — especially if you’re going to be working in the cold for any length of time.

But adding a few extra layers of clothing isn’t the only thing you can do to stay safe while working in cold weather. Here are a few things you should know.

Cold-related injuries can creep up on you

After an extended time in the cold, you may not realize that your body is starting to have trouble coping with the chill.

Cold stress, which causes your body to have trouble regulating its internal temperature, can easily give away to hypothermia. Hypothermia, in turn, can cause serious confusion, loss of coordination and other issues — before it turns into frostnip, a precursor to frostbite, which can eventually lead to the loss of your fingers or toes.

How you can tell it’s time to get out of the cold

Shivering is a sure sign that your body is struggling with the cold, and you should immediately seek shelter indoors until you recover. Possibly even more serious, however, are the following signs:

  • Confusion
  • Loss of energy
  • Stumbling or slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble using your hands
  • Exhaustion
  • Bright red, shiny skin
  • Skin that’s turning pale and white

It’s wise to make sure that everyone on your crew knows the signs of cold stress and other trouble. Someone who is struggling with the cold may not realize they’re having a problem because of the confusion that sets in — so crew members need to keep an eye on each other.

Cold-related injuries are very common among construction workers, road crews and others who have to work outside in Ohio’s winters. If you’ve been injured, make sure that you assert your right to workers’ compensation and all the benefits you are due.