Cold Weather Protection

Date: January 30, 2024

Nancy Rigby, BITCO Home Office Technical Specialist, Risk Control

Staying Warm on the Job Site During Cold Weather

Working on a job site during winter can be challenging and dangerous, and exposure to cold temperatures for an extended period can result in health problems such as trench foot, frostbite, hypothermia, and death. Here's what you need to know about cold weather protection on the job site and how to stay warm.

Cold Stress Factors

Cold stress can occur when a worker's body can't maintain its regular temperature. Workers exposed to cold temperatures and wind while working outdoors are at risk. Common factors that contribute to cold stress include:

  • Cold temperature: When the temperature drops below freezing, the body must work harder to maintain its regular temperature.
  • Wind chill: As the wind speed picks up, the quicker the skin loses heat, making it difficult to maintain its temperature.
  • Wet clothing: Wet clothing from sweat or water can make workers feel colder because it conducts heat away from the body faster.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue makes it more difficult for the body to create heat.
  • Poor circulation: Workers with poor circulation may have a harder time keeping their body warm, increasing the risk of frostbite and other cold-related injuries.

By being aware of the risk factors and taking the necessary precautions, workers can reduce their risk of cold stress and stay safe and healthy while working in cold environments.

Crucial Cold Weather Accessories

Dressing appropriately for cold weather is crucial for cold weather protection and is necessary for maintaining good health and avoiding cold-related illnesses and injuries. Encourage workers to wear clothing for wet and windy conditions. They should dress in loose-fitting layers to adapt to changing temperatures. All workers should wear a hat, socks, gloves, waterproof and insulated boots, and outerwear that will keep them dry and protected. Keep skin exposure, including eyes, to a minimum.

Cold Weather Protection Job Site Practices

Before beginning work, workers should regularly check the weather forecast to ensure they are prepared for the day's conditions. While on the job:

  • Stretch before beginning to shovel to warm up. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.
  • Use warming devices.
  • Always work in pairs to watch over each other.
  • Drink plenty of warm, sweet beverages. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid nicotine use which reduces blood flow.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Require workers to take breaks in heated areas often to warm up. If you or a coworker start to show symptoms of hypothermia, such as shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion or disorientation, or slurred speech, seek medical attention immediately.

Protecting yourself from cold weather on the job site is crucial for your safety and well-being. It's better to take a little extra time to prepare for the cold than to suffer the consequences of not being properly protected. For more job site safety tips, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to find an agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.


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