The Polar Vortex dealt us single digit temperatures, with wind chill factors in the minus zone. Unfortunately, those cold temps have a huge impact on construction workers who have to work outside.
When you work outdoors, the air temperature is important. But, it is also important to be aware of the wind chill. On January 7th, the air temperature in Philadelphia reached a record low of four degrees. But workers were subjected to wind chills as low as -20.
What is wind chill and why does it matter?
Wind chill refers to the combined effect of air temperature and air movement on body temperature. The rate at which the body loses heat depends on both the air temperature and the speed at which the air surrounding the body is moving. When the air is absolutely still, the heat from the body warms the layer of air right next to the skin. In fact, we take advantage of this quality when we wear insulating layers. But, when the air starts moving, it doesn’t have a chance to stay warm. As soon as the air starts to warm up, it is replaced with cooler air.
So, wind chill refers to the effect that the combination of air temperature and wind speed has on the body. A wind chill of -20 means that the worker should dress for a temperature of -20 degrees, not for the air temperature of 15 degrees.
Your body tries to maintain a core temperature of approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature of the body drops below 98.6, blood vessels in skin, arms, and legs constrict, decreasing blood flow to the hands, feet, arms and legs. This is to protect the vital, internal organs, but increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Because wind chill causes the body temperature to drop, workers can suffer cold-related injuries even when the temperature is above freezing.
Pennsylvania construction workers are entitled to safe work environments. Working in extreme temperatures is never safe. If you suffered hypothermia, frostbite, or other cold-related injuries while on the job, you may file a PA workers’ compensation claim.
To learn more, request your free copy of Your Guide To PA Worker’s Compensation. If you have questions, call Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo, P.C., at 888-807-WORK (9675). We offer a free consultation to discuss your case.