Workplace exposure

Keep indoor workers safe from cold temperatures, too

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Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr

When it comes to protecting your employees from the cold, don’t forget about your indoor workers.

“Workers – both indoors and outdoors – in services, transportation, agriculture, construction and other industries may be exposed to environmental cold stress that can lead to thermal discomfort, and in some cases even severe injuries, illnesses or death,” NIOSH warns. “For indoor workers, work in cold, damp conditions can be uncomfortable and may lead to declining work performance (i.e., a decline in cognitive function and dexterity), or result in cold-related illness or injury. Cold-related conditions can also worsen musculoskeletal injuries and vascular disorders.”

NIOSH has these tips to help:

  • Install equipment in the workplace to help reduce drafts and condensation.
  • Provide warm water or dry air heaters outside cold rooms for workers to warm their hands during breaks.
  • Perform preventive maintenance on a regular schedule and make repairs if heating systems aren’t working properly.
  • Rotate employees to different tasks after every break.
  • Minimize work requiring manual dexterity in cold rooms.
  • Provide glove alternatives for workers inside cold rooms (e.g., glove liners or fingerless gloves to wear under plastic gloves).

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