Environmental cold can affect any worker exposed to cold air temperatures and puts workers at risk of cold stress. As wind speed increases, it causes the cold air temperature to feel even colder, increasing the risk of cold stress to exposed workers, especially those working outdoors, such as recreational workers, snow cleanup crews, construction workers, police officers and firefighters.
Winter weather creates a variety of hazards that can significantly impact everyday tasks and work activities. These hazards include slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and environmental cold. Learning how to prepare for work during the winter, protect workers from the cold and other hazards that can cause illnesses, injuries, or fatalities, is essential to maintaining a safe work environment and completing tasks successfully.
When Mother Nature whips up a wicked winter wind-chill factor it creates a real health risk for outdoor workers if they don’t take precautions against what OSHA calls “cold stress”: hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot—a nonfreezing injury to wet, cold feet.