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Beware the onset of hypothermia when working out in the cold

By its very nature, construction work requires being exposed to the elements. After all, when you work on a construction site, you are building the structures that others will use to protect themselves from the heat, cold, snow, wind and rain. And as we proceed through the winter months, construction workers must be cognizant of the hazards that cold weather can bring.

Hypothermia is one of the most common and dangerous conditions that can be caused by the cold. Essentially, hypothermia occurs when your body expends all of its stored energy and it ceases being able to produce heat.

There are a number of early symptoms that could indicate that you are beginning to experience a bout of hypothermia. These symptoms include fatigue, shivering, disorientation and a loss of coordination. But as your condition worsens your breathing and heart rate may slow, your skin could turn blue, and you might even lose consciousness. If a co-worker should appear to be experiencing hypothermia, you can do the following:

  • Get the worker to someplace warm.
  • Immediately call for medical help.
  • Remove any wet clothes the worker is wearing.
  • If possible, give the worker a warm beverage, but no alcohol.

At first, you should concentrate on warming the center of the worker's body, including the groin, chest, neck, and head. You can use blankets or skin-to-skin contact under dry loose layers of clothing, towels or blankets.

In a worse-case scenario, your co-worker's heart could stop, in which case he or should be administered CPR. This is how serious hypothermia could become.

If you should be harmed due to hypothermia or some other cold-related condition, you could require a hospital stay and may even miss time from work. Workers' compensation exists to help pay for these sorts of expenses. But you must file an accurate claim, one that clearly outlines what happened and what you need for your recovery, in order to receive the benefits to which you are entitled. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can act as your representative in an effort to maximize your recompense.

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