Procedural Guidelines for Cold Weather Work | Courtesy OSHA 2021.
As temperatures change, so should your work gear. Read on to find out what you should do differently to stay safe when the world gets chilly!
If your job involves working outside or constant movement between indoors and out, your normal work gear, or even a warm coat may not be enough. Indeed, the best line of defense against the cold is a little thought and preparation, plus a dose of assistance from the friendly experts at Preferred Safety!
What safety gear to I need to add or modify to my normal setup in order to stay safe, warm, and OSHA-compliant?
1. Proper Layering
Wearing several thin layers of clothing is more effective than wearing one or two very heavy layers. Several thinner layers trap heat and so insulate better than one thick layer. This also gives you the option to add or remove layers as you get warmer or colder during the day. The result is that you are less likely to suffer from the extremes.
Make sure you have at least 2 hi-vis layers–for example, a quality vest and a warm sweatshirt-so that you are always safely visible, even if you need to add or remove a layer.
Sometimes, you don’t recognize the symptoms of hypothermia until you have already been feeling them for minutes.
It’s common knowledge to anyone raised in a cold state, but you lose 90% of your body heat from the top of your head. Hard hats are integral for many endeavors, but most designs fail to account for potential cold risks.
Consider a cold weather hardhat liner to wear under your hardhat. Don’t just put on a stocking cap or do rag. These could interfere with the suspension of the hardhat reducing the protection, and may make it uncomfortable to wear. Hardhat liners secure to the suspension without altering the protection of the hardhat; we have the perfect one available here.
If your work requires working outside but not a hard hat, our 3-in-1 Thermal Balaclava is the warmest option available.
The most important thing to remember in regards to keeping your feet warm, is keeping them dry! Your feet can be particularly vulnerable to the cold because they are often planted in cold mud or snow. Wear waterproof work boots in the winter, or keep a pair of rubber boots handy for working in wet or snowy conditions. Spray or cream waterproofing products are also available, but will need to be reapplied regularly.
Consider wearing two layers of socks. The first sock should be of wicking material to keep you dry. The second of wool, which will help keep you warm even if your footwear does happen to get wet.
4. Top Layer
Top off your winter work wear with a warm coat and insulated overalls or coveralls.
If you will be working on a job site, or anywhere where common sense safety rules apply, make sure you account for the need for hi-vis gear. Our Class 3 rated Hi-Vis Bomber’s Jacket is designed to fit over your normal gear and provide a great degree of warmth, while keeping you in compliance with safety protocol.
Thin glove liners of cotton or nylon, worn under another pair of gloves, will keep hands warm for significantly longer. Lightweight cotton and poly-blend string knit work gloves stretch to conform to the hand for a snug fit and make a perfect liner for work gloves or to provide light hand protection on their own. Alternately, invest in a quality pair of gloves specifically designed for use in cold weather, such as our Dipped Winter Gripper Gloves. Cold hands can be clumsy hands, and clumsy hands are a huge safety risk!
Great! I’ve gotten the gear I need and I’m ready for work in the cold. What else should I keep in mind?
Hypothermia sets in differently than people expect it to. Sometimes, you don’t recognize the symptoms of hypothermia – loss of body heat sufficient to constitute risk of short- or long-term harm–until you have already been feeling them for minutes. That’s why it’s extremely important to take regular warm-up breaks, and remain attentive to any drop in temperature or increase in wind chill.
Finally, stay hydrated. We all talk about it in the summer but don’t forget that between the cold crystallizing moisture outside and all the furnaces removing moisture inside, you will dry out as well. You’re more likely to feel ‘thirsty’ due to dehydration when you’re feeling hot, so drinking water or hot beverages when working in the cold is of paramount importance.
Take regular warm-up breaks, and remain attentive to any drop in temperature or increase in wind chill.
Ready to feel the warmth? Check out our cold weather gear!
…or shop our exquisite selection of PPE and fall protection items!
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