OSHA’s Cold Stress Guidance

As we head into the New Year, it is a good time for businesses to review OSHA’s cold stress guidance (link below). OSHA reminds employers that monitoring the wind chill temperature and workers’ physical condition while performing tasks will help them assess cold stress exposure and assist them in developing strategies to ensure work can be done safely. This is particularly true for employees not accustomed to working in the cold or those returning to such conditions, i.e., acclimatization, which is also an important tool in minimizing heat stress. Other cold stress risk factors identified by OSHA include 1) wetness, dressing improperly and exhaustion; 2) predisposing health conditions such as diabetes; and 3) poor physical conditioning. To help minimize cold stress hazards, OSHA lists potential abatement as including:

• Monitoring worker’s physical condition
• Scheduling frequent short breaks in warm, dry areas
• Scheduling work during the warmest part of the day
• Using a buddy system
• Providing warm, sweet beverages
• Staying well nourished by snacking on high-carbohydrate foods
• Providing engineering controls such as radiant heaters

In addition, employee training on how to recognize workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress, symptoms of cold stress, and use of proper clothing for wet and windy conditions is also important.

The guidance also provides a link to the National Weather Service Wind Chill Calculator, which allows someone to input the air temperature and wind speed to calculate the wind chill temperature.

Wishing everyone a wonderful and safe holiday season!
Winter Weather – Cold Stress | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)

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