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Safety Tips for Working in Cold Weather

From slip and fall accidents to cold stress, winter weather can cause serious injuries and even death to those exposed to the elements. Now that winter is approaching, business owners and their employees would benefit greatly from reviewing some safety guidelines to protect themselves and each other from the wintery conditions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, there were over 20,000 work-related injuries caused by ice, snow, and sleet. With nearly 70 percent of the country’s population living in snowy conditions, millions of workers are at risk every winter of suffering a serious and debilitating injury.

It is important to understand three environmental factors that can cause cold-related injuries to workers: temperature, air movement, and humidity. Here are a few safety tips to minimize cold stress and other cold-related injuries:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing: Proper clothing is vital to staying safe from the hazardous cold weather, particularly for workers who spend most of their days outside and in the lower temperatures. Clothing, combined with proper PPE, can be used for better insulation, keeping the core of the body warm. It is recommended to layer clothing and remove or add more if necessary. Also, wearing a hat to cover your ears and using insulated gloves and boots can help keep your hands and feet dry.

  • Food and liquids: It may be surprising to some, but working in cold temperatures takes more energy than it does in warmer temperatures. This is because the human body has to work harder to maintain a normal body temperature, and you exert more energy because of the constraints of more clothing and PPE. To counterbalance this, it is best to eat full and balanced meals and not to miss a meal throughout the day. Warm beverages are good to keep you hydrated and warm. This helps your body sustain enough energy to keep itself warm.

  • Working together: It is best to educate yourself and your coworkers the symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries, as working together can help identify health issues and prevent them. Some obvious symptoms for cold-related illnesses like hypothermia include confusion, sluggishness, and fever.

  • Slip and falls: Minimize the risk of slippery surfaces and slip and falls by keeping walkways free of ice and debris. Cover cords and cables and make sure mats and rugs are flat and secured. Monitor and spills or wet floors and check entrances for when workers walk in and out of the building.

  • Rest schedules: Heated facilities like tents or cabins should be available if out in below-freezing conditions. Furthermore, a break schedule should be arranged, which will help monitor any illness that may occur. Work pacing should be slowed down enough as to avoid excessive sweating, which could cause clothes and PPE to become damp. Workers should have proper rest and dry clothes readily available.

What Are Common Cold-Related Illnesses and Injuries?

Some common cold-related illnesses among workers include:

  • Cold stress: Cold stress is any injury or illness that is caused by low temperatures. Cold stress injuries generally occur when the body is no longer able to warm itself to normal temperature.

  • Trench foot: If the feet sit in wet and cold conditions, trench foot, also known as immersion, can occur. Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. Trench foot is best prevented by wearing proper footwear and recognizing symptoms, such as tingling, pain, and swelling.

  • Frostbite: Frostbite is a dangerous injury that can lead to permanent damage. The symptoms of frostbite is a loss of feeling and gray or white patches in the skin. Severe damage can occur if not treated properly.

  • Hypothermia: Hypothermia occurs when the body is exposed to cold temperatures for a period of time and the body temperature drops below 95 degrees.

Piscataway Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Helps Workers Injured by Cold Temperatures

If you have suffered a cold-weather related injury at work, contact our Piscataway Workers’ Compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Call us at 732-537-8570 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.

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