Hazards of the cold

15 April 2008

Employers need to educate their employees of the hazards of working in extremely cold environments

Employers need to educate their employees of the hazards of working in extremely cold environments

Exposure to cold, wet and/or windy conditions can create a physical hazard in your workplace. Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause cold stress, hypothermia or frostbite. In extreme cases, exposure can lead to death. Employers must train their employees about cold-induced illness and injuries.

Try to schedule work activities for the warmest part of the day. Encourage workers to recognize the dangers of cold weather. Wind chill involves the combined effect of air temperature and air movement. The higher the wind speed and the lower the temperature in the work environment, the greater the insulation value of protective clothing is required.

Dressing in layers, eating warm high-caloric foods and drinking warm sweet beverages that are caffeine free will help your body maintain a core temperature of 37 degrees C or 98.6 degrees F. Wearing waterproof insulated boots, gloves and clothing will keep your body warm and dry. Take frequent breaks in warm shelters.

Also, remember that workers face increased risks if they take certain medications or are in poor physical condition. Employees who suffer from hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or other illnesses must be monitored closely.

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