The long, warm, and beautiful days of spring and summer are over. Winter has officially forced us to feel its embrace. Many states have started experiencing their first period of snowy weather. Other states are currently experiencing extremely cold below freezing temperatures. For people working outdoors especially construction workers, cold weather conditions can prove to be extremely risky.
The Occupational Heath and Safety Administration (OSHA) offers various resources for construction professionals relating to how to work safely in cold weather conditions. It is crucial work site leaders plan ahead and develop action plans to address weather changes. OSHA suggests individual workers take responsibility and adhere to certain precautions during winter months. Each year, the agency issues guidelines such as those included below to workers regarding cold weather safety. This information can also be accessed from the agency’s website http://ww.osha.gov.
Safety should be a high priority during the winter months. It is critical workers are also familiar with the signs and symptoms of specific conditions that can result from extended exposure to cold weather such as frostbite and hypothermia. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, hypothermia is a dangerous lowering of a person’s body temperature. Symptoms include disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness, uncontrolled shivering, and confused behavior. When you observe a co-worker with these symptoms, OSHA suggests taking the following actions:
Frostbite occurs when skin actually freezes. Usually, it affects the nose, ears, fingers and toes. When attempting to take care of someone with frostbite, OSHA provides several suggestions:
OSHA offers various educational resources and materials online that address cold weather safety. In addition, www.webmd.com provides health information on conditions significant to cold weather as well as related treatment suggestions.