Maintaining Worker Safety in Cold Temperatures
For many professions, especially those that work predominantly outside, the type of precautions that must be taken to ensure worker safety can be seasonal in nature. Both extreme heat and extreme cold can present extra risks that employers and employees should actively work to prevent. As we take these next couple months trying to remember what pools, barbeques and warm weather are like, make sure to think of the following tips for worker safety in cold temperatures.
Properly Care for Your Electronics
While on the lower end of the list of priorities involving worker safety, electronic device maintenance and upkeep in cold temperatures can be very important for some workers. Many workers require the use of their cell phone or another electronic device to complete a job task. Others rely on worker safety devices, such as SoloProtect’s, to keep them safe from other perils that they may run into. Whatever the case may be, here are some precautions to take with your device in colder temperatures:
- Keep a charger and/or extra batteries at hand. Cold weather causes batteries to drain at a much faster than normal rate.
- Check the capacity of your battery beforehand. Batteries with a low lifespan will drain even quicker. Consider replacing a battery in this condition before beginning to work.
- Use an alternate device designed for colder temperatures as backup if possible. There are devices built for this kind of weather that may not have as much capability as your smartphone or other device but will provide the necessary means of communication if needed.
Dress and Eat Accordingly
These are preventative measures that may seem small but can really make a big difference in terms of worker safety. Many workers don’t wear as much protective clothing as they should because they warm up and get hot when performing work tasks, but it is important to come prepared with layers to be able to put on and take off, depending on changing weather and working conditions.
When it comes to consumption, workers should avoid any drinks with caffeine (and alcohol, of course). Drinking warm, sweet beverages, such as sugar water or sports beverages is recommended. When it comes to eating, warm, high-calorie dishes, such as pasta, are best. Doing this will help you maintain your body temperature, whereas alcoholic and caffeinated drinks will quickly make your body lose heat.
Take Frequent Breaks
This is a huge aspect of worker safety in cold temperatures. Not only does this allows workers the chance to warm up, but it also prevents fatigue and exhaustion. This is pertinent, because energy is required in order to maintain warmth in muscles. Those working outside in extreme cold temperatures should be seeking regular short breaks in a dry shelter area.
Look for and Actively Prevent Signs of Cold-Induced Illnesses and Conditions
Worker safety relies upon actively recognizing warning signals as early as possible. Prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can cause extreme and severe problems, some even resulting in death. Make sure to know and recognize the symptoms for hypothermia and frostbite so at first signs you can take the appropriate steps to alleviate the situation.
- Hypothermia: Some common signs of hypothermia include uncontrolled and severe shivering, mild confusion, slurred speech and difficulty walking due to clumsy movement. In the case of hypothermia, it is imperative to get the person in a warmer environment as soon as possible and remove any wet clothing that they may be wearing. If they do not have any wet clothing on, make sure to add more dry layers on top of existing clothing. Warm packs should be placed around the hip area to spread heat quickly. In mild cases, this should be sufficient. If more severe, be sure to get the affected person to the hospital immediately.
- Frostbite: Telltale signs of frostbite include an extreme or unhealthy pale appearance, stiffness and pain. Unfortunately, the pain can become extreme as the affected area is reheated. In extreme cases, swelling and blisters can occur. In the case of frostbite, the affected person should immediately be transported to a warmer area and taken in by health professionals who will alleviate the frostbite by soaking the affected area in warm water.
When it comes to worker safety, all conditions, including weather must be considered and accounted for. Horrible instances, such as hypothermia, frostbite and even death, can be mitigated by taking the proper steps. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) can provide further worker safety tips in cold environments. For more information on how SoloProtect can promote worker safety, visit www.soloprotect.com/us.