Seasonal safety: Winter Injury prevention Workplace exposures

Working in the cold

Stay safe when temperatures drop

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation/flickr

Cold weather and COVID-19

If you’re working outside in the cold and wearing an item such as a ski mask or balaclava, is that enough protection against COVID-19? Possibly.

Items with multiple layers of fabric that cover the mouth and nose “would be similar to wearing a cloth mask,” NIOSH experts told Safety+Health. However, they noted that some ski masks, balaclavas or similar items can have openings around the mouth and nose, making them insufficient protection.

State and local regulations may vary on cloth facial mask requirements for outdoor workers, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of masks when in public and around people you don’t live with.

“While there are no additional risks associated with wearing a mask or N95 respirator in the cold, compared to not wearing one, if a worker feels that working in the cold is having a negative effect on the respiratory system, they should consult a health care provider about their individual health concerns,” the NIOSH experts said. “An occupational safety and health professional should work with the employee to determine the most appropriate cloth face covering or respirator for their specific workplace settings.”

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