Workers Rights and Cold Temperatures

Apart from the obvious discomfort of working in cold temperatures, being exposed to the cold, indoors and outdoors can have hazardous effects on human performance and health. Many workers can experience thermal discomfort, strain and cold-related diseases. Exposure to cold temperatures affects an individual's ability to work well. Consequently, this means that workers exposed to extreme cold may become impaired simply because they can be too cold to function or react fast to a hazardous situation. This compounds common workplace hazards and increases the risk for cold-associated injuries exponentially. This relates directly to the protection of workers rights.

In the UK, the law protect us from cold temperatures and related exposure for this very reason. The law stipulates that that every employer must take precautions to keep employees safe from harm. Subsequently your employer has to protect you from cold weather exposure. If an employer fails in this duty of care, you have a right to claim compensation. Whether it is from cold exposure, resulting illness or an accident which has occurred. Know that help is at hand to claim compensation for your basic workers rights.

Early Warning Signs of Exposure

Watch out for some of the following negative effects of prolonged exposure to moderate to extreme cold temperatures:

  • Dehydration occurs when we do not drink enough fluids, especially when your body needs the fuel to stay warm. Increased respiratory fluid loss is also a common cause of dehydration. For example when you are sweating from exertion underneath heavy layers of clothing.
  • Numbness associated with cold feet and cold hands. Can also occur in unprotected parts of your face for example ears, cheeks, chin or nose. Cold causes slow blood circulation that can have more serious repercussions like frostbite etc. See below.
  • Shivering can be detrimental to your work. Severe shivering (also known as rigors) is when your body is trying to increase its core temperature. Usually a sign you should seek warmth.
  • Frostbite and immersion foot can be very serious and cause tremendous amounts of pain. Prolonged exposure to wet cold socks and shoes causes immersion foot. It can contribute to the devastating effects of frostbite and even cause permanent damage.
  • Hypothermia is characterized by drastic and dangerously low body temperatures. It causes shivering and in extreme exposure causes mental confusion. Hypothermia can be serious if not treated immediately and even lead to death.

5 Tips for Workers in Cold Temperatures

  • Cover up and wear the right clothing. With this in mind cover your head with a hat or headgear provided.
  • Make sure you protect your ears and face. Mittens and gloves for your hands are usually essential.
  • Likewise, foot gear is important. Your boots should be waterproof. Inner insulation can help your feet stay warm and dry.
  • Remain hydrated with warm beverages in any event. Drink frequently and if possible, eat energy rich foods.
  • Be sure to take frequent short breaks. For instance you can break in warm shelters to protect yourself from the cold.

Are You Protected?

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Act 1992 protects your workers rights. This law requires all employers to provide protective equipment and clothing free of charge to all their workers. The appropriate gear must further adhere to maintenance standards and be fit for its’ purpose, for example cold temperatures. Where necessary, employers are obliged to train their workers in the correct use and application of the above. An update on the law in 2002 further requires the equipment to be appropriately CE-marked.

It is essential for our workforce to learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries – especially if they were caused by cold temperatures. It is essential to know what to do if such injury or illness has occurred, and how to claim compensation. That is why Legit Claims can help you seek compensation. Find how much you could be entitled to by using the Legit Claims Calculator. It is never too late to claim the compensation you deserve. No win, no fee, no fuss.

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