While it’s not officially winter yet – the first day of winter in 2023 is on Dec. 21 – colder weather has begun to creep in across parts of the U.S. That means workers will soon be facing winter weather hazards.
With that in mind, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released some great tips for keeping workers in any industry both warm and safe.
6 ways to avoid cold stress injuries and illnesses
Cold weather can cause cold stress, which could lead to a lot of injuries and illnesses, including hypothermia and frostbite.
To fend off those potential cold weather injuries and illnesses, workers should:
- monitor their physical condition as well as the physical conditions of co-workers
- wear appropriate clothing
- wear clothing that allows the full range of motion necessary for performing work tasks
- move into warm locations during breaks
- include chemical hot packs in first aid kits, and
- avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
3 best practices for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning
Also, keep in mind that carbon monoxide is a major hazard when temperatures begin to drop. That’s because:
- some portable heaters can emit carbon monoxide, and
- the colorless and odorless gas produced by engines and appliances can accumulate in confined spaces and enclosed areas such as the cabs of vehicles, work trailers and any unventilated areas.
Carbon monoxide exposure of 200 parts per million for 15 minutes can cause disorientation, unconsciousness and eventual death.
Some best practices to keep workers safe from this hazard include:
- ensuring good maintenance practices of fuel-burning equipment and vehicles with regular inspections of exhaust systems
- placing monitors and audible alarm systems wherever carbon monoxide is a potential hazard with use of portable carbon monoxide detectors as necessary, and
- properly ventilating work areas.
Don’t forget about slips, trips and falls
Finally, don’t forget that walkways and work surfaces should be kept free from snow, ice and debris to avoid slip, trip and fall hazards.