Cold Weather Safety Precautions For Construction Professionals

Cold weather safety principles should be a consideration for Construction Workers during Winter Months.Cold Weather Safety is many times overlooked. When the long, warm, and beautiful days of spring and summer are over, winter takes over.  Many states experience snowy weather while other states experience extremely cold, below freezing temperatures. For people working outdoors, especially construction workers, cold weather conditions can prove to be extremely risky.

OSHA’s Published Guidelines On Cold Weather Safety

The Occupational Heath and Safety Administration (OSHA) offers various resources for construction professionals relating to cold weather safety. Work site leaders must 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

  • Become familiar with environmental and workplace conditions that lead cold weather safety injuries and illnesses.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Select appropriate clothing for cold weather safety conditions.
  • Rest and take break periods in a warm environment.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks).

Cold Weather Safety Provisions for Hypothermia or Frostbite

If you notice a co-worker exhibiting signs of hypothermia or frostbite, take the following steps:

  • Call for emergency help-911
  • Move the person to a warm area.
  • Give the individual a warm sweet drink (sugar water or sports-type drink).
  • Move the individual’s arms and legs to create muscle heat, if possible.

Frostbite, a severe condition involving cold weather safety, occurs when skin actually freezes. Usually, it affects the extremities such as the nose, ears, fingers and toes. When attempting to take care of someone with frostbite, OSHA provides several suggestions:

  • Seek medical attention.
  • Move to a warm area.
  • Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.
  • Do not rub the affected area.
  • Gently place affected area in warm water for 25-40 minutes.

OSHA offers various educational resources and materials online that address cold weather safety. In addition, provides health information on conditions significant to cold weather as well as related treatment suggestions.