Engineering controls can reduce the risk of cold stress. For example, radiant heaters may be used to warm workplaces like outdoor security stations. If possible, employers should shield work areas from drafts or wind to reduce wind chill.
Employers should use engineering controls to protect workers from other winter-weather-related hazards. For example, aerial lifts or ladders can be used for safely applying deicing materials to roofs to protect workers from potentially falling through skylights.
Consider implementing the following safe work practices:
• Providing workers with the proper tools and equipment to do their jobs.
• Developing work plans that identify potential hazards and safety measures used to mitigate them.
• Scheduling maintenance and repair jobs for warmer months.
• Scheduling jobs that expose workers to cold weather during the warmer part of the day.
• Avoiding exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
• Limiting the amount of time spent outdoors on extremely cold days.
• Using relief workers to provide extra hands for long, demanding jobs.
• Providing warm areas for use during break periods.
• Providing warm liquids to workers.
• Monitoring workers who are at risk for cold stress.
• Monitoring conditions during a winter storm, having a reliable means of communication, and being able to stop work or evacuate when necessary.
• Acclimatizing new workers and those returning after time away from work by gradually increasing their workload and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment.
• Knowing how the community warns the public about severe weather (e.g. outdoor sirens, radio, and television).
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides multiple ways to stay informed about winter storms. If you are notified of a winter storm watch, advisory, or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities.
When cold temperatures cannot be avoided, the following can help protect workers from cold stress:
• Wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing. Layering provides better insulation.
• Wear an inner layer of wool, silk, or synthetic (polypropylene) to keep moisture away from the body. Thermal wear, wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton.
• Wear a middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet.
• Wear an outer wind and rain protection layer that allows some ventilation to prevent overheating.
• Tight clothing reduces blood circulation. Warm blood needs to circulate to the extremities.
• A hat that covers the ears will help keep the whole body warmer. Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from the head.
• Insulated, waterproof gloves and boots can protect hands and feet, respectively.
- From the November/December 2020 GRAIN JOURNAL