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Baby, it's cold outside

January 31, 2003
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Temperatures across the U.S. this winter have set record lows or come close, putting workers in construction, commercial fishing, maritime and agriculture at risk.

OSHA's Cold Stress Card provides a quick reference guide and recommendations on how to protect workers. Among the tips:

  • Recognize environmental and workplace conditions that can be dangerous.

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help workers.

  • Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.

  • Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers so they can adjust to changing conditions.

  • Be sure that workers take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.

  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.

  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue, because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

  • Use the buddy system - work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.

  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.

  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.

  • Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

    For free copies of OSHA's Cold Stress Card in English or Spanish, click on OSHA's Web site, www.osha.gov, or call (800) 321-OSHA.

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