What is NFCI?
NFCI (also known as trench foot or non-freezing cold injury) remains a significant threat to troops and is a serious issue for the Armed Forces. While measures to prevent non-freezing cold injury (NFCI) lessen its occurrence and severity, it is the most common non-combat military injury and is often overlooked.
NFCI cases occur regularly in the temperate climate of the UK and each year injuries are sustained by military personnel, but these injuries are often preventable with the correct risk management. If you’re serving in the Army, Navy, RAF or Special Forces and fall victim to a cold injury due to a management issue, the MoD has failed its duty of care to you and you could be entitled to claim for compensation.
How are cold injuries caused?
Serving in the Armed Forces can sometimes require you to work in environmental extremes, but adverse weather conditions can pose health risks. NFCI is triggered by sustained exposure to cold and wet conditions anywhere between 0 and 15°C. An umbrella term for conditions such as trench foot and immersion foot, cold injury is closely linked to hypothermia.
While anyone is at risk from working in harsh weather environments, military personnel from warmer climates are more likely to suffer a non-freezing cold injury. The MoD has a responsibility to all service men and women to manage risks properly and provide appropriate protective gear, limiting the exposure to these challenging conditions.
What are the symptoms of NFCI?
Usually affecting the hands, feet and nose, non-freezing cold injury causes uncomfortable sensations and if left untreated can lead to permanent damage of the nerves and blood vessels and may even result in medical discharge from the Armed Forces.
- Burning sensation
- Chronic pain
- Blisters and ulcerations
All of which become more intense when transferring from cold to warm temperatures. These career-threatening injuries can in extreme cases lead to amputation or even death if frostbite occurs.
Cold injury has irreversible effects without quick treatment and in the majority of cases can put an end to service. Persisting long-term symptoms include increased sensitivity to cold resulting in the inability to work outside, water build-up in cavities and tissues and susceptibility to fungal infections.
To treat a cold injury:
- Dry your hands/feet as quickly as you can
- Gently warm the affected area
- Remove and replace wet clothing
How can a cold injury be avoided?
The MoD has a duty of care to you to ensure that every effort is made to avoid preventable injuries. Outlined in the JSP 539, the MoD states that nearly all heat and cold illnesses sustained are preventable “provided the risk factors are assessed properly and appropriately managed”.
This requires greater awareness of the risk and putting in place the right control measures such as providing the right protective clothing for working in dangerous climates, making you aware of the signs and symptoms of cold injury, recognising risks and acting fast to seek treatment to prevent irreversible damage.
If you’ve suffered a cold injury through the negligence of the MoD while serving in the Armed Forces, you could be entitled to claim for compensation. Our specialist military team are equipped with the necessary expertise to successfully represent you and achieve fair settlements on NFCI claims.
What is the time limit for military injuries?
Claims for NFCI military compensation can usually be made up to three years after the date of Armed Forces injury.
How can our military solicitors help?
We have a dedicated team of Armed Forces solicitors who have a wealth of experience in dealing with Armed Forces injury claims and the intricate and specialist issues that arise for many of our service personnel and veterans.
If you’ve been injured whilst serving in the Armed Forces, whether abroad or at home, our dedicated team of military lawyers are on hand to help.
We are proud to offer a 10% discount on our legal fees to all military serving personnel as well as those that are members of the Defence Discount Scheme.
Please note, the information on this page is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor. Always consult with an appropriate professional for specific advice related to your situation.