If you`re alone with your climate preferences, you can consider a few personal adjustments: make sure you dress appropriately for your comfort and have hot or cold drinks available, depending on your needs. A good dressing is extremely important to avoid cold stress. The type of fabric worn also makes a difference. Cotton loses its insulating value when wet. Wool, silk and most plastics, on the other hand, retain their insulation even when wet. Below are recommendations for working in cold environments: For more information on the general effects of working in the cold, as well as how to adapt the body to the cold, see Cold Environments – General. Some employees have a higher risk of frostbite. Those at risk include older employees, people with circulatory problems, people with a history of frostbite, alcohol users, nicotine, or beta-blocker medications. Employees who have recently suffered an injury or blood loss are also at higher risk of frostbite.
Employees who do not take precautions, such as wearing appropriate protective clothing to prevent frostbite, are also at high risk. It is essential to train all employees on the dangers of cold weather. Protective clothing: See “What do I need to know about personal protective equipment (PPE) for working in the cold?” Like the feet, the hands are the part of the body most likely to be affected by cold temperatures. When choosing gloves or mittens, it is necessary to take into account the most suitable product for the temperature or tasks performed in environments, such as the level of insulation, size and flexibility, as well as dexterity. In cold rooms, the air velocity should not exceed 1 meter per second. If workers are simultaneously exposed to vibration and/or toxic substances, reduced cold exposure limits may be necessary. Keep the employee`s movements to a minimum. If the muscles are working at this stage, cold blood is likely to be sent from the legs and arms to the central circulatory system. This lowers the core temperature even further, which could be fatal. When the heart is cold, its natural rhythm is disturbed.
What constitutes extreme cold and its effects can vary depending on the region of the country. In areas that are not accustomed to winter conditions, temperatures close to freezing are considered “extremely cold”. A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature. When temperatures drop below normal and wind speeds rise, heat can leave your body faster. Due to the negative effects of cold on human health and performance, as well as on productivity, quality and safety at work, the ISO standards body considered that a comprehensive strategy for risk assessment and management practices and methods was needed to work in cold environments. Based in Geneva, ISO is a network of national standards institutes from 157 countries and the world`s largest developer and publisher of international standards. Here are some of the risk factors that contribute to cold stress: When it comes to protecting your employees from the cold, don`t forget your indoor workers. If your boss responds that harsh working conditions are only “part of the price you pay for a job,” you have the option to file an OSHA complaint.
(It`s usually illegal for your boss to take revenge on you for this.) While there are no specific federal regulations for working in extreme cold or heat, you are entitled to employment that is “free from recognized hazards.” This includes exposure to extreme cold and heat. Some states have stricter rules regarding heat, and you can find the state`s plans here. For continuous work at temperatures below freezing, heated shelters such as tents, huts or break rooms should be available. Work must be accelerated to avoid excessive sweating. If such work is necessary, reasonable rest periods should be allowed in a warm place and employees should put on dry clothes. New employees should have enough time to get used to the cold and protective clothing before taking on a full workload. In a cold environment, most of the body`s energy is used to keep the internal core temperature warm. Over time, the body begins to move blood flow from the extremities (hands, feet, arms, and legs) and from the outer skin to the core (chest and abdomen). This displacement allows rapid cooling of exposed skin and extremities and increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
Combine this scenario with exposure to a humid environment, and trench foot can also be a problem. Anyone who works in a cold environment can be at risk of cold stress. Some workers may need to work in cold environments and outdoors for long periods of time, such as snow removal crews, plumbing workers, police officers, and emergency and recovery personnel such as firefighters and paramedics. Cold stress can occur in this type of work environment. The following frequently asked questions help workers understand what cold stress is, how it can affect their health and safety, and how it can be avoided. A cold environment challenges the worker in three ways: air temperature, air movement (wind speed) and humidity (humidity). In order to work safely, these challenges must be compensated by adequate insulation (multi-layered protective clothing), physical activity and controlled exposure to cold (work and rest schedule). For example, the ACGIH suggests working in heating when working continuously in the cold, when the wind chill temperature is -7°C (19.4°F), heated shelters (tents, cabins, break rooms, etc.) should be installed nearby. Workers should be encouraged to use these accommodations, depending on the severity of exposure. If signs of cold stress are noticed, return to the shelter immediately. To work at -12°C (10.4°F) or lower, the following should be required: Long-term effects of working in the cold can include arthritis (tissue wear), rheumatism (tissue damage by the immune response), difficulty breathing (bronchitis), and heart disease due to stress on the heart due to changes in blood flow. While the recommendations are specific to the airline catering facility being evaluated, some of these recommendations may apply to other facilities where workers spend most of their shift in cold rooms.