The cold weather is here in California and with these frigid temperatures, comes another hazard our employees may be exposed to! The Occupational Safety & Health Administration, OSHA, provides some tips on how to protect workers not just in cold, outdoor situations, but in all cold weather environments.
Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death. Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help immediately. Tips on how to protect workers include:
Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that may be dangerous.
Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to help workers.
Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
- Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
- Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system – work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
- Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.
If you should have any questions or need any assistance, please contact your Stratton Agency Risk Manager at 925-556-4404.