How Can Outdoor Workers Stay Safe in Winter?
As the temperatures drop in New Jersey and throughout the Northeastern United States, it is a good time to reflect on ways to protect employees who work outdoors. While most of us are able to retreat indoors during the winter months, many professions expose workers to the elements—regardless of the weather.
But that exposure comes with the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, trench foot, and other serious health problems. People who work outside and their employers should be vigilant about safety to prevent cold weather illness and injuries this season.
Who Is at Risk of Cold Stress?
Cold stress is a condition where the body is unable to maintain its normal temperature. It is caused by exposure to extreme cold or wet environments. Without interventions, cold stress can lead to serious injuries, permanent tissue damage, and even death.
Workers at high risk of cold stress include:
- Construction workers
- Emergency responders
- Sanitation workers
- Snow cleanup crews
Winter Safety Tips for People Who Work Outside
Here are the top safety tips to reduce exposure to freezing temperatures and prevent cold stress injuries.
- Dress for the Weather
Dress appropriately for the cold weather. Wear several layers of clothing; choose fabrics and materials designed to retain warmth. Protect your hands and feet with waterproof gloves and footwear.
Add a thin, beanie-style liner under protective headgear to cover your ears. A fleece balaclava that covers the head, face, and neck is ideal for more extreme temperatures. Carry extra socks, gloves, and clothing for layering or to replace wet items.
2.Take Frequent Breaks
Workers should reduce time spent outdoors in frigid temperatures. Allow frequent breaks where employees can retreat to warm locations like inside work vehicles and other heated areas. Jobs should be scheduled for the warmest time of the day, and relief workers should be assigned for longer jobs.
3. Provide Emergency Supplies
Stock work vehicles with supplies to protect workers during an emergency until help arrives. Cold weather emergency kits should include warm blankets, bottled water, flares or reflective traffic cones or triangles, non-perishable foods, hot packs, and a basic first-aid kit.
4. Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished
Make sure you are drinking enough water if you work outside; the body becomes dehydrated faster in cold conditions. Mild dehydration can cause fatigue and dizziness as well as affect memory and concentration. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay alert. Do not skip meals and choose snacks high in carbohydrates and fats that provide nutrients your body can use to stay warm.
5. Know the Signs of Cold Stress
Finally, every worker should receive training to recognize the signs and symptoms of cold stress and how to act if they occur. Common signs of a serious cold-weather health condition include:
- Blue, pale, or waxy skin
- Tingling or stinging
At the first sign of illness or injury, move the individual to a warm shelter and request immediate medical help.
Remove wet clothing and focus on warming up the center of the body first, starting with the chest. An electric blanket or skin-to-skin contact under dry, loose layers of clothing or blankets is effective. Warm, non-alcoholic beverages can help raise the person’s temperature as well. Keep the person dry and warm until assistance arrives.
Highland Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at The Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Represent Clients Who Have Been Injured on the Job
If you got hurt on the job, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits under New Jersey law. Our experienced Highland Park Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr are ready to help you so you can focus on recovering. Call us at 877-249-4600 or inquire online to schedule a free consultation.
From our office in Highland Park, we assist clients throughout Somerset, New Brunswick, Piscataway, Edison, Sayreville, South River, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Iselin, Old Bridge, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia, New Jersey.