Safety Suggestion December 2018 - Cold Weather Hazzards

Safety Suggestion December 2018 - Cold Weather Hazzards

Cold weather brings with it a number of risks and hazards: slips and falls from wet floors, stairs, and ice, exposure to extreme temperature resulting in frostbite and hypothermia, overexertion when removing snow, carbon monoxide from improperly vented heating systems, vehicles and generators, and winter driving.


Frostbite and hypothermia are the major exposure risks. In frostbite, freezing occurs in the deep layers of skin and tissue. Skin becomes pale, and waxy-white, hard and numb. Frostbite usually affects the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears, and nose.

Hypothermia is more serious and is a medical emergency Signs of hypothermia include: body temperature drops to or below 95°F; fatigue or drowsiness; uncontrolled shivering; cool bluish skin; slurred speech.

Slips and Falls

These accidents are among the most frequent causes of injury. They occur more often in wet weather, and especially so during winter when residual snow and ice keep floor surfaces wet.

Keep floors dry and paths clear. Avoid slipping on wet, icy and slippery walking surfaces. One only needs to ask the following:

  • Is snow, ice or rainwater removed promptly?
  • Is lighting adequate in all work areas, halls and stairways?
  • Do employees wear appropriate footwear?
  • Do area rugs or mats have non-slip backings?
  • Are highly-polished floors slippery?
  • Are there any “wet floor” warning signs?

Protecting Outdoor Workers

  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries, and train workers to protect themselves.
  • Select proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves.
  • Take frequent short breaks to allow the body to warm up.
  • Perform work during the warmest part of the day.
  • Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
  • Drink warm beverages. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.


Finally, when workers perform strenuous tasks in cold weather, such as shoveling snow, overexertion can lead to sore muscles, back strain and possible heart attacks. Consider the physical condition of anyone doing stressful outdoor work before assigning them. Diabetics, heart patients and persons with vascular and thyroid problems are more susceptible to cold-weather stress.


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