Keeping Workers Warm
Extreme cold can cause a number of health problems for employees during the winter months. Hypothermia and frostbite are just two conditions that may affect workers if the proper precautions are not taken.
If workers must be outside in cold weather, they should dress in layers, including a hat, gloves and insulated boots. The inner layer of clothing should transfer moisture away from the skin (e.g., polypropylene or similar material), the middle layer should provide insulation and warmth (e.g., polar fleece or wool), while the outer layer should prevent wind, rain and snow from getting in. Air between the layers will provide additional warmth.
Hypothermia occurs when a person’s core body temperature drops below 95°F. The condition is considered mild if a person’s core temperature is between 90 and 95°F. A person with mild hypothermia may show symptoms such as uncontrollable shivering, loss of dexterity, pale and cool skin, and incoherence.
Frostbite is frozen and sometimes dead tissue that is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, usually below freezing. The extremities of the body (ears, nose, fingers, hands, toes and feet) are most often affected because the body reduces blood flow to them in an effort to maintain its core temperature.
A safety management program can help keep workers safe.
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