The Dangers of Cold to Your Feet

It’s not just falling objects and penetration wounds you need to worry about in your work environment. During cold temperatures, one of the most common injuries for laborers results from cold temperatures and insufficient footwear. Without properly insulated footwear and cold weather clothing, you could fall victim to trench foot or frostbite, slip and falls, and sickness.

Trench Foot & Frostbite

Trench foot and frostbite are similar in effect with a few key differences. However, both are brought on by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures without appropriate winter gear and attire.

The first thing everyone thinks of when they think of exposure to freezing temperatures is frostbite. Frostbite is brought on in several stages. First, your skin becomes cold and turns red. This stage is usually not very serious but should signal that you need to either go inside to get warm or put on layers and gear that will prevent any further cold. The second stage is superficial frostbite; when the skin now feels warm or hot. When you finally warm back up, you may see blisters form up to 36 hours later. If you did not remove yourself from the elements or obtain proper winter weather gear by this stage, you are in serious danger of deep frostbite. Deep frostbite involves the freezing of all layers of the skin and could affect joint and muscle movement. After the skin is warmed up, you will form blisters similar to superficial frostbite, before the skin eventually turns black as the tissue dies.

Trench foot is similar in that the symptoms include cold skin, redness, and blisters – eventually leading to dying tissue. However, unlike frostbite, trench foot requires a combination of wetness and cold. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, but your feet are not damp, you’re most likely experiencing frostbite on some level.

Slip & Fall Injuries

Of course with cold weather comes hazardous walking conditions. In addition to properly insulated footwear and cold weather clothing, you will need to have the right type of tread on your work boots. You’ll also want boots that are slip resistant to water and oil.

Believe it or not, slip and fall injuries are one of the most common injuries in the workplace, across all different types of work and jobs. And these conditions can change throughout the year. For instance, a road construction laborer may not worry about slipping during the summer when it hasn’t rained in several days, but during the fall and winter are now exposed to rain and ice that could be treacherous.

Take the time to properly check the tread and technology in each pair of shoe before you buy it. It could be the difference between another day at work or a trip to the emergency room.

Sickness & Illness

Though some would argue sicknesses aren’t caused by cold temperatures, exposure to cold can weaken the immune system and make catching a cold or virus much more likely. You could end up with something as common as a sinus infection to the more severe like strep throat or a bad case of the flu.

Sometimes getting a cold or getting a virus is unavoidable, but why put yourself at extra risk by not wearing appropriate footwear to keep yourself warm? Though sickness won’t keep you out of work for extended periods of time, you may end up missing time because of it.

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