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How to Protect Employees from Severe Cold Weather Threats

Posted on Thursday, September 21st, 2017 by Mila Adamovica

Know the Risks

Exposure to extremely low temperatures for an extended period of time may cause serious health problems and complications if protective measures have not been taken care of before starting work on a project in severe weather conditions. The most common symptoms of being affected by cold include memory loss, uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, numbness, white or grayish skin color in the open body areas, which can be a result of the frostbite or hypothermia. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. Hypothermia occurs if the body temperature falls below 95° F. In this case, the situation is qualified as an emergency and requires an immediate medical attention.

Winter Weather Watch

To stay safe during winter, familiarize yourself with these terms to identify the extreme weather conditions and to fully understand the alerts issued by the National Weather Service.

Freezing Rain: rain that freezes when it hits the ground and creates a coating of ice on roads and power lines.

Sleet: the rain that turns into ice pellets before reaching the ground, which causes moisture on roads to become slippery.

Wind Chill: the wind chill effect is the temperature as it “feels like” when you are outside.

Winter Weather Advisory: the winter weather conditions that may be hazardous.

Winter Storm Watch: the storm watch that is issued 12-36 hours before a severe storm hits your area.

Winter Storm Warning: the winter storm is in your area.

Blizzard Warning: alerts the population in the affected area that the sustained winds or gusts of 35 mph or more, and the reduced visibility due to snowfall are expected to last for three or more hours.

Frost/Freeze Warning: expect the below-freezing temperatures in your area.

Top 10 Tips to Protect Workers from Cold Weather:

Learn the signs of cold-related illnesses and how to help affected workers:

  1. Evaluate if the environment and the workplace conditions are dangerous for workers.
  2. Provide training for workers on cold-related injuries and encourage them to wear PPE.
  3. Provide proper clothing for the cold, wet, or windy weather, and don’t forget to include layering options that can be easily adjusted to changing weather conditions. Have an emergency kit ready.
  4. Encourage workers to take frequent breaks in shelters to allow their bodies to warm up and to avoid exhaustion or fatigue.
  5. Schedule work for the warmest part of the day, if possible.
  6. Work in teams or in pairs, so that at least one worker could recognize the warning signs of hypothermia or frostbite and alert others to take the appropriate action.
  7. Drink hot, sweet beverages, and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  8. Eat warm, high-calorie foods to provide additional energy to your body that is necessary to fight the cold.
  9. Remember that some workers may face increased risks if they take certain medications, or if they suffer from serious illnesses: diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Avoid scheduling them for long work shifts in extremely unfavorable weather conditions to prevent serious complications or death.

What kind of PPE will help you stay safe while doing your job during cold season? Here are our top 5 picks for cold weather protection.

Top 5 Picks:  Cold Weather Protection Gear

1. NorthFlex Cold Grip Gloves

Glove

NorthFlex Cold Grip Plus 5™ gloves provide double-duty protection with a high-level of cut/slash resistance, coupled with the superior cold weather protection capabilities. These amazing gloves feature a 15-gauge seamless knit hi-vis orange outer shell made of a superior cut-resistant fiber blend that enhances worker safety and the soft brushed acrylic thermal inner layer. They are an ideal solution for the following applications: construction, mining, masonry work, oil and gas, sheet metal and glass handling, trash collection, recycling, transportation, refrigeration industry, snow cleaning, and forestry.

2. Hot Rods Hand Warmers

Hot Rod

The disposable, air-activated warming packets made from Iron powder will keep you warm for about eight hours if you insert them into your gloves. These “mini furnaces” are perfect not only for those working at construction sites or in manufacturing but also for recreational outdoor activities and winter sports. To activate, open and shake a pouch for about 10 seconds.

3. Hi-Visibility 2-Piece Reflective Rain Suit

Hi-vis Suit

Ideal for cold and rainy conditions in construction, municipalities, and shipyards, this Hi-Vis Yellow Rain Jacket and Pant Suit is made of lightweight polyester with a 100 % waterproof polyurethane coating. The jacket features a zipper closure with a storm flap, roll-up hood, and elastic waist pants for extra comfort. Two-inch reflective tape adds superior visibility. The suit meets ANSI 107-2010 Class 3 standards.

4. The Pyramex Heat/Cold Resistant Goggles 

Goggles

According to OSHA“protecting workers’ eyes from wintry conditions is an important yet easily overlooked part of an overall … safety program. Without the proper cold weather eyewear, workers are vulnerable to an array of hazards, and the chances for injury increase significantly.” Using goggles with a Thermo Lens System is a perfect solution for those who are at risk of eye damage. The high-rated Pyramex V2G-XP Heat/Cold Resistant Goggles combine two lenses to insulate against extreme cold or high heat and resist fogging, dust, flying particles, the wind, sun glare, and harmful UV rays. The interior acetate lens includes a protective layer of air between the two lenses. This Thermo Lens System keeps hot and cold from getting to your face and prevents fogging.

5. Muck Chore Steel Toe Boots

Boots

The high-performance Muck Boot Chore boots are 100% waterproof and are comfortable to wear in temperatures from sub-freezing to 85 ° F.  These black boots are 12″ tall and include Vibram outsoles and a steel toe for extra impact protection.

Call us at 800-829-9580 to get a full list of excellent cold weather protection products that we offer, or visit us online: https://www.pksafety.com/all-products/cold-weather.html

References:

  1. OSHA: Cold Stress Guide
  2. OSHA: Four Considerations for Cold Weather Eye Safety
  3. National Weather ServiceCold Weather Safety