First Aid for Common Cold Weather Injuries

First Aid for Common Cold Weather Injuries

We may be well into the new year, but dangerously cold temperatures are still possible in many parts of the country—even with spring a mere few weeks away. Whether your employees are required to work outside regularly or only occasionally, make sure they’re well versed in first aid for these common cold weather injuries.

Frostbite

When temperatures are below freezing, prolonged exposure of skin to the cold can result in frostbite. Couple frigid temperatures with wind and skin will freeze even faster. Fortunately, the damage is usually reversible if a worker receives prompt—and correct—treatment. Make sure your employees recognize the symptoms of frostbite (numbness, tingling, aching or pain in exposed parts of the body in conjunction with pale, waxy skin) and know how to treat it.

Basic first aid for frostbite includes:

  • Don’t apply heat (radiator, stove, fire, heating pad, hot water bottle)
  • Don’t rub the skin
  • Warm the affected limb quickly with warm (not hot) water or blankets
  • Gently exercise the warmed limb
  • Don’t walk on frostbitten feet
  • Get medical attention ASAP

Hypothermia

When a body loses heat faster than it can regenerate it, hypothermia can occur. The first symptoms generally appear when a worker’s core body temperate drops to 95°F and begin with shivering, loss of coordination and slurred speech. If not treated before the core body temperature drops to 85°F, hypothermia will become severe. A worker with hypothermia will lose consciousness when his/her core temperate reaches 78°F, and death may occur shortly after.

Basic first aid for hypothermia includes:

  • Move the worker to a warm area
  • Remove frozen or wet clothes
  • Wrap the worker in warm clothes or blankets
  • Provide a warm beverage
  • Don’t give caffeine or alcohol
  • Get medical attention ASAP

Dehydration

Dehydration is not just a summertime danger. With every breath your workers exhale in cold weather, moisture escapes their body through their lungs. A dehydrated worker is more vulnerable to other cold weather injures such as hypothermia. Symptoms include dry skin and dry mouth, but these are harder to distinguish when the temperature is low. Urine color is a better indication during this time of the year. Dark yellow or brown urine is a sign of dehydration. If not treated, symptoms can progress to extreme fatigue and confusion.

Basic first aid for dehydration includes:

  • Provide plenty of fluid such as water
  • Do not give caffeine or alcohol
  • If symptoms are severe, get medical attention ASAP

Overexertion Injuries

Overexertion injuries are common in outdoor workers during cold weather. Low temperatures require a body to work harder to replace lost heat, which puts additional strain on the heart and lungs. This, in turn, makes physical activity more difficult. Tissues become stiffer, increasing the risk of strained and sprained muscles.

Basic first aid for overexertion injuries include:

  • Rest the affected muscle or limb
  • Apply a cold pack to the sore area
  • Try a compression wrap
  • Elevate the affected limb above the heart
  • Take an over the counter pain medication
  • If injury does not improve, seek medical attention

Do Your Employees Know How To Handle Hazardous Materials Safely?

Do Your Employees Know How To Handle Hazardous Materials Safely?

Workplace safety is no joke. Certain lapses could result to injury or even death. This is why there are plenty of rules that should be followed to the letter. Below are a few things that every employee in your workplace should know.

Follow the rules.

The best way to ensure that hazardous materials are handled safely is to follow all the rules concerned. The rules are usually right and no one has ever been harmed following them.

Use safer materials where possible.

In some cases, there are safer alternatives and it’s highly recommended to make the switch where possible. This will reduce the risks altogether.

Wear the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Before working with hazardous materials, the proper PPE should be brought in first. Anyone who is required to use PPE should be trained on its proper use for both normal and emergency operations. Workplace safety dictates that worn out or damaged PPE should be replaced as well.

Use hazardous materials only for their intended purpose.

Hazardous materials have specific purposes in mind. For this reason, it’s not recommended to use them other than their intended purpose. Doing so increases the chance of personal injury, damage to property or death.

Read the labels.

Containers of hazardous materials should have labels that detail their properties. Other important information includes the hazards they can bring. Read the labels first before using hazardous materials. Report any broken or unreadable labels as well.

Ensure proper ventilation.

Control measures such as ventilation are needed to prevent exposure to hazardous materials. Proper ventilation means toxic vapors, dust, deadly fumes and other hazards are avoided.

Don’t eat or drink around hazardous materials.

Accidental consumption of hazardous materials often comes from contaminated food. To avoid this scenario, keep food away from the work area. Eat or drink only at the designated places.

Observe personal cleanliness.

Another way to avoid contamination is to make sure that personal cleanliness is observed. Wash with soap and water thoroughly after handling hazardous materials. Even the work area should be kept clean for workplace safety.

Be cautious.

When working with dangerous materials, it is important to be cautious. Think ahead and consider what could happen if things go wrong. This lets workers react to an emergency more efficiently. More importantly, focus on the job at hand.

Store hazardous materials properly.

When not in use, hazardous materials should be stored in the proper containers. This is to avoid any contamination that might jeopardize workplace safety. The storage areas should also be sturdy and appropriate for the material to be stored.

Invest in first aid training.

Hazardous materials can cause certain health conditions when someone is overexposed to them. Medical personnel may not be available as soon as practical. This is where first aid training can help. First aid should help prevent further injury so it is a good idea to have some of your workers undergo training.

Dispose hazardous material appropriately.

Unlike regular waste, hazardous waste disposal is governed by strict rules. Careless disposal could result in environmental damage and be a danger to people who are not trained to handle them. In general, hazardous waste is handled the same way as hazardous materials.

Understand emergency procedures.

Emergency procedures are a critical component of workplace safety. Knowing what to do when an emergency occurs can mitigate disaster. This is why your workers should understand these procedures clearly. This includes evacuation procedures, guidelines dealing with injury and fires and reporting processes among others.

Get everyone involved.

Safety is a team effort. It is something that everyone should be involved in. Ideally, safety meetings should be conducted regularly as an opportunity to discuss the latest developments. It should also be a time to air any concerns over safety in the workplace.

Be vigilant.

Safety rules should be implemented at all times. Any lapses or deficiencies in its implementation diminish its effect. With this in mind, it becomes important to stay vigilant. Make sure that all rules regarding workplace safety followed by everyone in your workplace.

These are just some of the things every workplace should be concerned about when it comes to safety. If you need assistance or a review of your existing workplace safety program, contact us today.