Offshore Working & Hypothermia Injuries
Many offshore workers and their employers are aware of the risks of hypothermia while working in below-freezing temperatures. However, many in the maritime industry do not realize that this dangerous condition can be induced in above-freezing temperatures too. Learning the signs of hypothermia will improve working conditions and potentially save a life.
What Is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature is too low to keep functioning. Many people know that the body’s normal functional temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Many people do not realize that it only takes three degrees of reduced temperature for the human body to enter hypothermia. When the body reaches a temperature below 95 degrees, a person will begin to exhibit mild signs of hypothermia.
Early symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Slow or shallow breathing
- A weak pulse
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of consciousness
One of the most dangerous aspects of hypothermia is the fact that the victim is usually not aware of it. Because symptoms of hypothermia are gradual and initially subtle, a victim of hypothermia will not be aware of what is happening to them until its advanced stages.
When hypothermia reaches advanced stages, the following happens:
- Loss of ability to move
- A dangerously low heart rate
- Organ failure
Why Hypothermia Is an Offshore Issue & How to Avoid It
If someone suffering from hypothermia is not treated, the complications can be severe and even fatal. Frostbite occurs when the tissues of the body freeze and can lead to gangrene (decaying tissue) and limb loss. In the worst cases, hypothermia is slow and painful.
Workers can avoid hypothermia with proper training. Employers must provide training while also ensuring that their employees have the warm clothes required to work on the platform of an offshore drilling rig. It does not need to be freezing outside for hypothermia to set in, so employees should be aware that warm clothes are a must on all chilly days. Falling overboard also represents a significant hypothermia risk for workers, so employers must have established protocols for rescuing overboard employees.
If you’ve suffered from hypothermia while working offshore, call today for a free consultation at (888) 346-5024. Our offshore injury attorneys are ready to fight for your compensation.