With winter upon us, it is likely that a great number of accidents at work will involve complications due to the colder weather. Sadly, not all trades can come indoors over the frosty season and so first aiders must be prepared for all eventualities, including the ability for ensuring warmth for an injured party, and be able to manage other issues surrounding work-related injuries sustained in the snow and ice.
Winter workplace accidents mean ensuring warmth is paramount
Those working outside over winter will, no doubt, be prepared for the drop in temperature and the testing weather conditions. Of course, suitable clothing and footwear is essential for ensuring warmth, however, if you do have an accident at work in the cold, your trained first aider should be able to help with both your injury and managing your body temperature levels.
Unfortunately, when accidents at work occur outdoors, there is a chance that the injured party could be unseen for a short period of time, or that employees would have attempted to work in conditions that can potentially cause hypothermia.
Hypothermia is simply when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius. According to St John’s Ambulance, their comprehensive list of symptoms are:
- Shivering and pale, cold, dry skin.
- Disorientation, apathy or irrational behaviour; occasionally belligerent.
- Impaired consciousness or lethargy.
- Slow and shallow breathing.
- Slow and weakening pulse.
- In extreme cases the heart may stop.
How to treat hypothermia
First and foremost when the victim of work-related injury is brought to the attention of the first aider, wet, cold clothing must be removed and replaced with dry clothing and blankets.
Where possible, if the victim is fit and adequate facilities are in place, bathe the victim and provide warm drinks.
It is important that the injured party has regained some of their body heat before allowing them to sleep, but following the above precautions, ensure they are put to bed, covered well and provided regularly with warm food and drink.
Obviously, in the case of most work-related accidents, it would not be necessary for the first aider to carry out all elements of this treatment. Should an employee of the firm appear to show signs of hypothermia, it is advisable to call a medical professional or, depending on the severity, the emergency services.
Accident Advice Helpline
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Date Published: February 2, 2014
Author: David Brown