One of the most prevalent illnesses or injuries sustained by maritime workers is hypothermia. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hypothermia is the most significant risk to maritime workers. Maritime workers can experience symptoms of hypothermia after prolonged exposure to cold or freezing conditions.
What is Hypothermia?
Hypothermia occurs when an individual’s body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. A normal temperature is 98.6 degrees. This drop in temperature can be caused by various factors, including:
- Falling into water
- Prolonged exposure to cold or freezing temperatures
- Inadequate clothing for temperatures
- Inability to regularly warm up or change wet clothes
- Prolonged exposure to cold air or wind
The risk of maritime hypothermia can occur in water as warm as 80 degrees.
If body temperature drops to 89 degrees or lower, hypothermia is considered severe and life-threatening.
Symptoms of Hypothermia
Hypothermia can present a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to moderate to severe:
- Mild hypothermia symptoms can include:
- Trouble speaking
- Increased breathing and heart rate
- Lack of coordination
- Moderate to severe symptoms of hypothermia may include:
- Shivering that eventually stops
- Slurred speech
- Confusion and disorientation
- Weak pulse
- Shallow breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Any of these symptoms should be taken seriously. The person who may have hypothermia should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Without timely treatment, hypothermia can cause permanent damage and can be fatal.
Contact a Maritime Hypothermia Lawyer
If hypothermia is not properly treated, it can result in severe injuries including frostbite, organ failure and death. In the maritime industry, employers are required to provide adequate safety and security measures for employees. That includes adequate gear and training to prevent illness and injuries.
Any maritime worker believing that he or she has experienced hypothermia due to the negligence of an employer should contact a maritime lawyer immediately. These individuals have rights that deserve protecting. Contact Maritime Injury Guide to learn more by calling 1-866-871-8422, or by completing our online contact form.