Winter approaches, and with it comes harsh cold environments that can become dangerous if the necessary precautions are not taken! Keeping your workers warm throughout this winter season is important in all cases, but those who work in a warehouse or outside entirely will need extra protection from the cold! Together, we will learn about things to look out for, as well as how to keep your workers not only warm, but also safe this Winter Season.
With Winter comes a series of potentially serious health issues and concerns. Health issues such as, trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia. If your workers are outside they could be exposed to water immersion, which would not only accelerate frostbite and hypothermia, but could also lead to death in extreme cases! You should be constantly on the lookout for warning signs such as, uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, and fatigue or confused behavior. If you see these signs, or these signs are reported to you, do not hesitate to act!
Now that we know the side effects cold weather conditions can cause, lets discuss some steps one can take to ensure their workers need not worry about the harsh temperatures. It is important for you to recognize the environment and the workplace conditions. If you believe they are too dangerous, it may be best to close shop, or invest in industrial space heaters to keep the environment warm and safe. It is also important to recognize the warning signs of cold induced illnesses and injuries, as well as know what to do should one occur.
While it is important for you to understand the risks cold environments can cause to workers, it is equally important for your workers to understand them as well. Train your workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries. Teach them the warning signs and how to act should a cold-induced illness occurs. Encourage your workers to dress for the occasion! Make sure they wear proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions. It is strongly recommended to dress in layers.
Dressing properly for cold weather is important, it is equally important for your workers to take short breaks in a warm, dry environment. Allow for at least 15 minutes for them to warm themselves before re-engaging in the cold weather. It is vital that workers are allowed breaks to avoid fatigue and possible exhaustion. If you suspect one of your workers to be fatigued ensure they take a break and warm themselves. When the body is fatigued it is no longer able to produce energy which is needed to keep muscles warm. As an added means of protection, use the buddy system! Assign your workers in pairs so that they may look after one another.
It is vital to ensure that your workers are eating and drinking properly. Avoid drinking beverages with caffeine such as, coffee, soda, tea, or hot chocolate. Instead drink warm, sweet beverages such as, sugar water and sports drinks. Choose warm foods that are high in calories such as pasta dishes. These foods and drinks will make sure your workers stay hydrated, energized, and warm.
Finally, it is important to remember that workers who take medication face increased risks in cold weather. Health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease are serious risks that only increase with colder temperatures. Suggest workers with these illnesses to stay at home, or if they do come into work, keep a very close eye on them, and use the buddy system!
Winter can be a dangerous season, but if you keep these tips in mind you will make your workplace safer! If you want more information, follow this link to OSHA’s website: https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/cold_weather_prep.html.