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Outdoor Work Safety in Cold Weather 

 March 2, 2021

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With frigid temperatures gripping areas across the United States, keeping safe while working outdoors is a concern for employees and managers. Here are some precautions that employers and workers can take to prevent cold-related illness and injury.

Dangers of Working Outdoors in the Winter

Exposure to cold temperatures can cause skin to become red or itchy, and blisters or ulcers may form. An affected area may become numb, painful, or swollen.

Spending an extended amount of time in extreme cold can lead to hypothermia. In the early stage, a person with hypothermia may shiver and become tired, disoriented, and uncoordinated. In the later stage, an individual may stop shivering, the pupils may become dilated, the person’s pulse and breathing may slow, and he or she may lose consciousness.

Falls are common when working in snowy and icy conditions. A fall can lead to bruises, broken bones, head trauma, and other serious injuries that may require a trip to the hospital and may leave an employee temporarily or permanently disabled.

Steps Workers Can Take to Stay Safe

Employees who work outdoors should wear a coat, hat, gloves, and waterproof shoes or boots. Layered clothing can provide insulation to help people who work outside retain heat. Clothing should be loose since tight garments can restrict blood flow and make it difficult for workers to move. It’s a good idea for individuals who may get wet (from water or sweat) while working to bring a change of clothing.

How Employers Can Protect Workers

Business owners and managers should provide training on symptoms of cold-related illness and injury so employees know what to watch for, in themselves and in others. Employers should encourage workers to check on each other since a person who is suffering from hypothermia or another condition caused by cold weather may not realize what is happening or may underestimate the severity of the problem.

Employers should monitor outdoor conditions, including temperature and wind speed. The amount of time workers must spend outside should be limited, and employees should have access to areas where they can stay warm when they aren’t working.

Managers should train workers on what types of footwear are appropriate for winter conditions (insulated and water-resistant shoes or boots with good traction). Workers should be advised to take shorter steps than they ordinarily would so they can maintain their balance and react quickly if they start to slip.

Employees who work on roofs or repair power lines should receive appropriate safety equipment and training, including fall protection equipment. Work should be postponed if conditions are unsafe.

Order Supplies to Protect Your Workers

1st Aid Supplies sells workplace safety signs that can warn employees of the dangers of cold weather and remind them of safety protocols, as well as hot packs and other supplies that can be used to protect your workers and to treat injuries if they do occur. Place an order today.

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