Cold, windy, and wet weather can be dangerous to employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says employers must give employees a workplace that is free from risks, including extreme cold. Our tips can help you protect employees.
1 Know the symptoms
Shivering uncontrollably is a sign the body is trying to prevent hypothermia (a medical emergency that happens when body temperature drops below 95° F). Frostbite causes numb, reddened, or hardened skin that can have grey or white patches or blisters. Keep an eye on employees you know have a medical condition, are taking medications, or are new or returning to a job.
2 Provide training
Train employees about the symptoms of cold stress, and conditions leading to cold-related illnesses. Teach employees ways to prevent cold related illnesses, and how to give co-workers first aid. Explain your work practices to prevent cold stress (like using radiant heaters or shielding work areas from drafts).
3 Schedule smart
Remind employees to take short breaks often and in warm, dry shelters that you provide. Save outdoor tasks for the warmest part of the day. Use relief or extra employees for long or demanding jobs.
4 Dress for the conditions
Employees should wear proper clothing to protect against cold, windy, or wet conditions. This includes knit hats, gloves, and waterproof boots and clothing. On extremely cold days, employees should wear at least three layers of clean, loose clothing, with the inner layer made of material that absorbs moisture.
5 Watch the weather
Wet or damp weather, along with wind chill, are hard on the body. Check the National Weather Service daily for wind chill watches, warnings, and advisories in your area. Take these seriously and limit employees’ time in the cold when these conditions are forecast.