Stay Warm: How to Protect Workers from Cold Weather Hazards
January 15, 2016
In many parts of the country, it’s starting to get cold. Winter has officially begun. If your workers are exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time, they are at risk for such health conditions as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. Extreme exposure can also lead to death, in some cases.
OSHA notes these warning signs that a worker may be suffering from an illness related to exposure to the cold: uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. Here are some tips from OSHA on how to keep workers safe from cold weather conditions:
- Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.
- Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
- Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
- Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm, dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system—work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
What extra steps do you take to ensure your workers stay safe in the cold weather? What more can you do to protect them and help them recognize the signs of cold weather illness?
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