Staying Safe On The Job In Frigid Conditions: Guidance From OSHA


Even when temperatures drop well below freezing, some jobs still have to get done.

Employers have a responsibility to keep their workers safe, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA Baltimore – Washington Office Director Nadira Janack said it’s important that workers be trained in how to recognize signs of cold stress, hypothermia or frostbite. Employers, meanwhile, should schedule frequent breaks.

“Schedule breaks, schedule work during the warmest part of the day, maybe using a buddy system… we’re also asking that they make sure workers have appropriate gear and clothing and that they maintain vehicles with snow equipment and emergency kits,”Janack said on Delmarva Live with Jake Smith.

OSHA provided additional tips:

Winter weather presents hazards including slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and environmental cold. Outdoor workers can be exposed to frostbite, hypothermia, and cold stress, all of which can be fatal.

To prevent illnesses, injuries, or fatalities in workplaces impacted by winter weather, employers should:

·       Train workers on

–        Recognizing the environmental and workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress.

–        The symptoms of cold stress, how to prevent cold stress, and what to do to help those who are affected.

–        How to select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.

·       Monitor workers’ physical condition.

·       Schedule frequent short breaks in warm dry areas, to allow the body to warm up.

·       Schedule work during the warmest part of the day.

·       Use the buddy system (work in pairs).

·       Provide warm, sweet beverages. Avoid drinks with alcohol.

·       Provide engineering controls such as radiant heaters.

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