02/01/2008

Tips to Protect Employees During Cold Weather

Some areas of Europe have already experienced the harsh, sometimes damaging
effects of winter. With the cold weather upon us, the U.S. Department of
Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is encouraging
employers and employees to take necessary precautions to prevent and treat
cold-related health problems. Employees who work outside ­ such as in
construction, commercial fishing, maritime and agriculture ­ are especially
vulnerable.

Exposure to freezing and cold temperatures for extended periods of time may
cause serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia.
In extreme cases, including cold water submersion, exposure can lead to death.
Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements,
fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call immediately
for emergency help.

OSHA's Cold Stress Card provides a reference guide and recommendations to
combat and prevent many cold weather-related illnesses and injuries. Available
in English and Spanish, this laminated card is free to employers, employees and
the public. Tips on how to protect employees include:

  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what
    to do to help employees.

  • Train employees about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.

  • Encourage employees to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy
    conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.

  • Be sure that employees in extremely cold conditions take frequent, short
    breaks in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.

  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.

  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

  • Use the buddy system: Work in pairs so that one employee can recognize danger
    signs.

  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid
    drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.

  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.

  • Remember that employees increase their risks when they take certain
    medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as
    diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

More info


AplusA-online.de - Source: U.S. Department of Labor  Occupational Safety & Health Administration