Fit for Work is a UK government-funded web site providing support to medical professionals, employers and employees on work conditions that can impact a person’s health. We were encouraged to find two articles on Fit for Work’s web site featuring Raynaud’s.
One article titled “Cold weather and its effect on health” lists Raynaud’s along with such potential ailments susceptible to winter weather conditions as heart attacks, hypothermia and joint issues which can occur due to the same cause as Raynaud’s (blood flow diverted to protect a body’s core) or due to an inflammatory response caused by changes in the barometric pressure.
The article suggests employers be mindful to give workers access to warm clothing and drinks, along with regular rest breaks for the opportunity to warm up. It’s refreshing to see Raynaud’s taken so seriously in work-related content.
The second article “Cold weather spells trouble for sufferers of Raynaud’s” deals with work-caused Raynaud’s specifically through the use of vibrating tools and equipment or conditions that can result in frostbite.
Raynaud’s caused by repeated pressure to the fingers through occupations like construction workers, woodworkers, dentists, pianists and stenographers is often referred to as Vibration White Finger. We’ve published several articles in the past on this subject, including: Useful Facts on Vibration White Finger.
Other occupations may cause dangerous exposure to cold, wet conditions that can result in frostbite. Those mentioned include agricultural and fishery workers. We’d add to the list those working long hours in grocery or butcher freezers. However, for someone already prone to or suffering from Raynaud’s, anyone who spends long hours outdoors in cold weather conditions could be at risk for frostbite, such as postal workers, crossing guards, doormen, even dog walkers.
The article encourages employers to provide education, training, the proper protective equipment, and health surveillance. Such actions can help employees develop work habits to avoid future attacks and prevent extreme symptoms like gangrene or severe blood vessel and tissue damage. Taking these steps can also help employers better hang onto employees who can’t easily tolerate such work conditions and might quit or go on disability, and that’s smart business!