The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) maintains a broad directive that employers are required to provide “a workplace free from recognized hazards.” While elements such as quality material handling equipment are easy to control, cold weather presents a more abstract health risk.
OSHA recognizes cold stress as a genuine workplace hazard. Here are tips on how to recognize and prevent cold weather-related injuries and illnesses.
Common Cold Stress Conditions
– Hypothermia is a rapid loss of body heat during which body temperature drops below 95°F. A person suffering from hypothermia will shiver initially, but the shivering actually stops as the condition grows more severe.
– Frostbite results when frigid temperatures cause skin and underlying tissues to freeze. Feet and hands are most susceptible to frostbite, which is characterized by numbness and reddened skin marked with gray and white patches.
– Trench foot, sometimes referred to as immersion foot, occurs when wet feet are exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods of time. As blood vessels constrict to conserve heat, they also cut off oxygen and nutrient supplies to the skin.
Tips to Prevent Cold Stress
– Train employees to recognize and treat common cold stress symptoms.
– Make sure workers are dressed appropriately. Wearing layers of loose-fitting clothes keeps skin dry and well-insulated. Accessories such as hats, gloves and boots should also be worn.
– Cold stress can cause people to become disoriented and lose coordination. Assign workers in pairs so they can monitor each other for symptoms.
– Provide a warm break room and keep warm, sweetened beverages on hand to prevent dehydration.
Put Safety First with Material Handling Equipment from DJ Products