The Mine Safety and Health Administration has released a cold stress safety alert to protect workers from weather-related injuries.
The types of cold stress injuries include hypothermia, which occurs when the body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. It can affect the brain and make the victim unable to think clearly or move well. Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and can affect the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Trench foot is an injury of the feet resulting from prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions.
MSHA recommends the following to protect workers from cold stress:
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers
- Wear several layers of clothing for insulation.
- Protect the ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold or wet weather
- Wear waterproof and insulation boots and clothing
- Wear a hat to reduce the loss of body heat from your head
- Have extra socks, gloves, hats, jackets, blankets, and a change of clothes available in case the weather becomes much worse or your clothes become wet
- Use radiant heaters in break areas and limit the amount of time outside
- Carry or make available a thermos of hot liquid
- Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kit
- Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin
- Maintain adequate hydration and nutritional requirements