Top 6 business sectors for cold stress injuries

Make sure you know which workers are most susceptible to cold stress and extreme weather as winter approaches

Workers Comp


For producers with clients in colder areas, now is the time to start thinking about the winter chills.

While office workers are unlikely to suffer from the effects of extreme weather, anyone who spends a significant amount of time outdoors or in unheated buildings may be at risk.

Between 1979 and 2002, an average 689 Americans died each year due to exposure to extreme cold. Male workers were particularly at risk, with 66% of hypothermia-related deaths occurring in men.

The numbers get more frightening in certain states, as well. As of 2002, Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico and Montana had the highest rates of death by hypothermia.

Thanks to occupational health and safety regulations, howeve, it is extremely unlikely that a worker will die on the job. Still, cold stress-related injuries like frostbite and trench foot are nevertheless easy to acquire

Risky Business: Even in non-winter months, workers in the following industries face higher risks of cold stress than others because of their consistent exposure to the outdoors:

  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Truck driving
  • Utilities
  • Sanitation
  • Food preparation and distribution

It's an issue that producers should be aware of when talking to clients, according to Ryan Slaughter of Threlkeld & Company Insurance. Not only will good advice help protect client employees, it may turn around and provide producers with an easy profit.

"As far as the cold goes. that's just like anything else...the more knowledge you have about an industry it makes it a lot easier to sell," he says.

And like any good producer knows, knowledge about the individual also helps.

Consider the individual's medical history if they are working in exposed environments, because those with a history of diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease are more likely to experience cold stress. Unfit and older workers will also be more vulnerable to extremes in temperature: the majority of hypothermia-related deaths in the US in 2002 were in people over the age of 65.

Even if an individual is not regularly exposed to outdoor work, knowledge about their extracurricular activities can assist producers. Those who participate in skiing or fishing in the winter months, and thus make themselves vulnerable to the cold, should also be alerted to the benefits of income protection insurance in case anything goes awry on weekends.

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