Safety Tips Construction Seasonal safety: Winter Weather Workplace exposure

Stay warm when working in the cold

Photo: SeventyFour/iStockphoto

Working outdoors already involves many hazards. Add cold temperatures during the winter months, and the number of risks grows.

Cold stress injuries and illnesses can occur when a person’s skin temperature (and, eventually, their internal body temperature) falls and their body can no longer maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, disorientation, lack of consciousness, and even coma or death for workers who spend time outdoors.

OSHA says to follow these best practices to stay safe in cold weather:

  • Know the symptoms of cold stress: reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness and blisters.
  • Wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing as well as insulated gloves and boots, and cover your head.
  • Be aware of your physical condition as you work, and that of your co-workers.
  • Stay dry.
  • Pack extra clothes, as moisture can increase heat loss from the body.
  • Take breaks in warm, dry areas.
  • Drink warm liquids.

OSHA’s Winter Weather webpage – – has more safety tips.

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