Written by TLX’s own Karen VanderWal
Karen VanderWal is a Business Development Executive with Tech Trades, a national provider of skilled trades talent, and your partner for Workforce Business Solutions.
As we prepare for the upcoming Holiday season, it is a good time for some reminders about cold weather job site safety.
Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter, outdoor workers, and those who work in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, near-freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can more rapidly leave your body. These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.
Cold stress can be a very dangerous condition. You cannot predict who will be affected by lower temperatures, nor can you predict when those effects will become evident.
Many factors can make an individual more susceptible to cold stress. Risk factors that increase a person’s susceptibility to cold stress include:
- Wetness/dampness (even perspiration will make an individual more susceptible)
- Dressing improperly
- Predisposing health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
- Poor physical conditioning
As you and your company prepare for the winter season, please heed these simple steps as suggested by the US DOL OSHA:
- Employers should train workers; Training should include:
- How to recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress.
- The symptoms of cold stress, how to prevent cold stress, and what to do to help those who are affected.
- How to select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.
- Monitor workers’ physical condition.
- Schedule frequent short breaks in warm dry areas, to allow the body to warm up.
- Schedule work during the warmest part of the day.
- Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
- Provide warm, sweet beverages. Avoid drinks with alcohol.
- Provide engineering controls such as radiant heaters.