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February 20, 2012

SAFETY TIP: Prevent Cold Stress Illness and Injury

It's the time of year when workers may be at risk of cold stress. In regions relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and wind speed increases, workers can be at risk for cold stress - and serious health problems. NIOSH offers these tips to protect workers from cold stress:
  • Wear appropriate clothing:
    • Several layers of loose clothing provides the best insulation.
    • Tight clothing reduces blood circulation. Warm blood needs to be able to circulate to the extremities.
    • When choosing clothing, be aware that some clothing may restrict movement, resulting in a hazardous situation.
  • Make sure to protect the ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold weather.
    • Boots should be waterproof and insulated.
    • Wear a hat to help keep your whole body warmer.
  • Move into warm locations during work breaks; limit the amount of time outside on extremely cold days.
  • Carry cold weather gear, such as extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, a change of clothes and a thermos of hot liquid.
  • Include a thermometer and chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
  • Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
For information on hypothermia, frostbite, trenchfoot, and chilblains, including symptoms and first aid, visit the NIOSH page on Cold Stress.

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