Volume 1, Number 8
When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur and permanent tissue damage and death may result. Employers with employees working in cold environments such as construction, logging, agriculture, and even food processing and food storage lockers must take precautions to prevent and treat cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
Cold-related illnesses can slowly overcome a person who has been chilled by low temperatures, brisk winds, and wet clothing. Prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as frostbite and hypothermia. In extreme cases, including cold water immersion, exposure can lead to death.
Frostbite usually affects the fingers, hands, toes, feet, ears, and nose. It is a freezing of the deep layers of skin and tissue. The skin becomes hard and numb and turns a pale, waxy-white in color.
Hypothermia (a medical emergency) can occur when the normal body temperature of 98.6°F/37°C drops to or below 95°F/35°C. Danger signs include fatigue or drowsiness, uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, and irritable, irrational or confused behavior.
Fed/OSHA offers a Cold Stress Card which provides guidelines and recommendations for preventing cold weather-induced illnesses and injuries. Here are tips for protecting employees at risk:
Employees are at an increased risk when:
Obtain a free copy of Fed/OSHA’s Cold Stress Card:
The information herein is for reference only and State Fund does not warranty its accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose. Any products, references, or links to Web sites are not an endorsement by State Fund or its employees, but serve only as examples to assist you with your workplace design changes. State Fund cannot be held liable or accountable for content on linked Web sites.