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Hot Tips to Winterize Your Workforce

Outdoor work requires proper preparation, especially in cold and severe winter weather conditions.

Although OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, employers have a responsibility to provide workers a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards. This includes winter weather and related hazards.

Employers should train workers on the hazards of the job and appropriate safety measures, such as engineering controls and safe work practices.

Cold temperatures and wind speed causes heat to leave the body faster than it can be produced.

Cold temperatures and wind speed causes heat to leave the body faster than it can be produced. Hypothermia occurs when normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to 95° F or lower.

  • Train employees on how to recognize the symptoms of cold stress (Hypothermia)

  • Mild: alert, but trembling or shivering; dizziness, fatigue, confusion

  • Moderate to Severe: shivering stops; shaking, confusion, slurred speech, slow heart rate, shallow breathing, body discoordination

  • Severe: unconsciousness, unable to breathe, weak pulse

  • Frostbite: numbness, reddened skin, gray and white patches on skin, skin feels hard/firm, blisters may appear

  • Wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions

  • Head/face covering

  • Layered clothing, loose fitting, insulated

  • Gloves (insulated, waterproof)

  • Proper footwear, warm socks (insulated and waterproof boots)

  • Warm-Up & Stretch prior to work and performing tasks

  • Cold muscles are weaker than warm muscles

  • Range of motion decreases

  • Employees are more at-risk of becoming injured

  • Stay hydrated: drink warm sugary fluids (minimize coffee consumption and no alcohol)

  • Provide engineering controls, such as radiant heaters

  • Adjust work schedules or tasks to the cold or changing weather

  • Gradually introduce workers to the cold

  • Monitor employees and schedule breaks in warm areas

  • Consider instituting a “Buddy System”


Accurate Ergonomics (AE) specializes in helping you protect your workforce form illness and injury. Our risk assessments and training courses are designed to improve the health and skills of employees, change workforce behaviors, increase efficiency, prevent loss and build a true culture of prevention.

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Click here to download a FREE Cold Stress Hazard Assessment Checklist.

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The information contained in this post is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of this blog post. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This post is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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