Cold Stress: What is it and How to Avoid it.

Cold Weather ConstructionWith the recent arctic blast sending record breaking chills through our bodies, remember that working outside in the winter is the most dangerous season of the year.  Ensure that you go home safely each day by remembering to use common sense and follow best safety practices while working in extreme winter weather.

Did you know that at 10 degrees flesh is in danger of freezing within 1 minute?

Cold weather can take a serious toll on our bodies if we are not adequately prepared.  Knowing the signs and symptoms of Cold Stress just may save you, or one of your co-workers lives.  There are several different forms of Cold Stress such as trench foot, front bite, and hypothermia.  Cold Stress is caused when heat loss occurs more rapidly from your body than it is able to warm itself.  Increased wind speeds, wetness and dampness (including sweating), are all factors that facilitate bodily heat loss.

To avoid Cold Stress, there are some basic precautions you should take when working in conducive conditions

  1. Dress for the weather.  Anyone who works outside knows that there nothing better than having the right tool for the job.  Proper clothing is the most important tool you can have when working in cold weather.  Dress in several thin layers instead of fewer thick layers.
  2. Whenever possible, schedule your work for the warmest part of the day.
  3. Don’t work alone.  Use the buddy system and pay attention to your partner to look for signs of Cold Stress.
  4. Drink warm, sweet beverages.
  5. Take short frequent breaks out of the elements to allow your body to dry off and warm up.

For additional information on Cold Stress and Cold Stress Prevention, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/cold.html