Cold Stress: Hypothermia
Cold stress is a physical hazard to outdoor workers in extreme cold environments. This dangerous situation can bring health emergencies for outdoor workers who are poorly insulated or without heat. The two most dangerous types of cold stress are hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can be produced. This typically happens if you have had prolonged exposure to cold. Symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion, or disorientation. In the late stages of hypothermia, the body will stop shivering, the skin will turn blue, the eyes will dilate, pulse and breathing will slow, and you will eventually lose consciousness.
To treat somebody with hypothermia, remove any wet clothing and immediately warm the person. Warm the center of their body first -- neck, chest and head -- then try to give them warm beverages to increase their core temperature. Give CPR if the victim has no pulse and alert your supervisor so you can get immediate medical attention.
Frostbite occurs to an area of the body that freezes. It causes a loss of feeling and color in the affected area(s), and in severe cases leads to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in outdoor workers who do not dress properly or in those who have reduced blood circulation. Symptoms include numbness or tingling, aching, reduced blood flow to hands or feet, and bluish skin.