Employers Helping to Prevent Cold Stress
OSHA does not have a specific set of standards in regards to working in cold environments. BUT employers have the responsibility to provide their workers with a place of employment that is free of recognized hazards, including cold stress, which can cause death or serious injury as per (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970).
According to OSHA employers should train their workers on the hazards of the job and train them on the correct safety measures to help protect the workers’ safety and health. Some of the guidelines OSHA expects employers to follow include: Employers should train workers on how to recognize cold stress illness & injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Worker should be trained on the appropriate engineering control, personal protective equipment, and work practices to reduce the risks of cold stress. Employers should provide engineering controls, such as radiant heaters and work areas that are shielded from drafts and/or wind. Employers should use safe work practices to help prevent illness & injuries caused by cold weather. Dehydration is still a risk factor in cold weather, warm sweetened liquids should be provided to workers to keep them warm and hydrated. If possible heavy work should be scheduled in the warmest part of the day. Breaks should be offered to workers in warm areas. Safety measures like these should be incorporated into relevant health and safety plans for the workplace.
Always Dress Appropriately for the Weather
- Wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing. Layering provides better insulation. Do not wear tight fitting clothing
- An inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic to keep moisture away from the body.
- A middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet.
- An outer wind and rain protection layer that allows some ventilation to prevent overheating.
- Wear a hat or hood to help keep your whole body warmer. Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head.
- Use a knit mask to cover the face and mouth (if needed).
- Use insulated gloves to protect the hands (water resistant if necessary).
- Wear insulated and waterproof boots (or other footwear).
Safety Tips for Workers in Cold Environments
- Your employer should ensure that you know the symptoms of cold stress.
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
- Dress properly for the cold.
- Stay dry in the cold because moisture or dampness, e.g. from sweating, can increase the rate of heat loss from the body.
- Keep extra clothing (including underwear) handy in case you get wet and need to change.
- Drink warm sweetened fluids (no alcohol).
- Use proper engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by your employer.
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