According to OSHA the number one risk to those who work in cool environments is Cold Stress. This occurs when anyone working outdoors and/or in cold environments has a drop in skin temperature which then leads to a decrease in internal body temperature. This causes serious health problems from tissue damage which can result in death. It's important for both employers and employees to know the risks and take precautions against Cold Stress.
Here are some tips to keep everyone safe while working in the cold:
1. Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress-related illnesses and injuries and how to give first aid treatment. Personal protective equipment and work practice training is a great tool to reduce the risk of cold stress.
2. Employers should provide environmental controls. For example, radiant heaters may be used to warm up workers during frequent short breaks - this especially applies to new employees or those returning from time off. If possible, shield all work areas from drafts or open air to reduce wind chill. Plastic sheeting or small tents can make a big difference.
3 Employers should always use safe work practices. Did you know it is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather? Providing plenty of warm, sweetened liquids to workers can be a great off set to both dehydration and the cold.
4. Use the buddy system! It's safer to have two people monitor each other for signs of cold stress than relying on ones self to do so. It's easy to be focused on the task at hand and forget to check yourself for symptoms.
The first step in preventing major health issues with your work force is to know that signs of Cold Stress and educate everyone! If you are looking for any more pointers, please call our office today.