With the cold weather arriving, it brings with it some additional hazards at work, particularly for those that spend some, or most of the working day outside.
We often discuss the safety risks associated with winter working, such as slips on ice, delayed reactions and extreme winds.
But it is important to remember that the health of workers can also be at risk in the cold.
Here are 7 health tips for surviving winter work:
One of the most obvious forms of protection against the cold is to wrap up warm. Several layers of suitable clothing and PPE must be suitable for protection against the cold particularly in cold windy, icy or snowy conditions.
If workers show signs of shivering and loss of coordination, not only does this in itself increase the risk of accidents, but also shows they are being affected by the cold. Don’t keep working, stop and warm up, add more layers or change into warmer clothes.
Workers need to be aware of the symptoms of cold stress and the early signs of hypothermia, and take action to prevent illness from the cold. Slurred speech, memory loss and cold pale or blue skin are all indicators that quick action is needed.
Welfare and rest facilities need to provide a warm place of rest to allow the workforce to get a break from the cold. Frequent breaks should be encouraged to give opportunities to warm through, and change gloves, socks and other clothing if it has become wet.
Workplace heating such as fixed or portable heaters should be considered, especially in rest areas where workers come to warm up. It is important to give your body the opportunity to warm up to a reasonable and comfortable temperature.
Temporary roofs, scaffold sheeting and other temporary shields can be used to protect your outdoor work environment from the elements, reducing the wind chill factor and minimising draughts.
Warm drinks and snacks, especially warm liquids like soups, teas, coffees and hot chocolates can also help maintain body temperature during rest periods.