Staying safe on winter worksites is essential for health and well-being. The risks of injuries and illnesses are significantly higher when working in cold, snowy, and icy environments.
Fortunately, you can take steps to increase your safety on winter worksites. These methods can help.
Implement these tips to stay safe on winter worksites.
Wear Layers of Warm Clothing
Insulate yourself with at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing:
- An inner layer of wool, silk, or polypropylene to retain heat and keep moisture away from your body
- A middle layer of wool or polypropylene to provide insulation
- An outer layer of wind and rain protection to allow ventilation and prevent overheating
Wear Protective Outdoor Clothing
Wear warm outdoor clothing to protect yourself from the cold winter weather:
- Hat that covers your ears
- Knit mask that covers your face and mouth
- Insulated coat
- Insulated gloves
- Snow pants
- Wool socks
- Insulated, waterproof boots with rubber treads
Avoid Slips on Snow and Ice
If walking surfaces are not clear of snow and ice, you can use these tips to increase safety while walking:
- Take short steps.
- Walk at a slow pace.
- React quickly to a change in traction.
Safely Remove Snow from the Worksite
Physical exertion from snow removal can be taxing on the body. This exertion can lead to exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks.
You can use these tips to increase safety during snow removal:
- Scoop or push small amounts of snow at a time.
- Use a smaller shovel or take smaller scoops if the snow is wet and heavy.
- Keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
- Operate the snowblower at a modest speed to avoid overload.
- Take frequent breaks.
- Drink non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages.
Prevent Cold Stress
Increasing wind speeds that cause heat to rapidly leave your body elevate the risk of cold stress. This risk is greater if you are improperly dressed, are in poor physical condition, or have predisposing health conditions such as hypertension or diabetes. Serious injuries such as trench foot, frostbite, hypothermia, and permanent tissue damage can result.
You can use these methods to help prevent cold stress:
- Get trained on the symptoms of cold stress, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone is affected.
- Wear proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.
- Take frequent, short breaks in warm, dry areas.
- Work with at least one other person.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages.
- Eat high-carbohydrate foods.
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