When the temperature drops and snow piles up, trade professionals know that the job still has to get done. Working in winter weather for hours at a time can be hazardous to you and your crew because of the threat of cold-related illnesses. Fortunately, you can minimize the health risks associated with winter weather by exercising caution when working in the cold. Follow these cold weather safety tips to prepare your team for working outside this winter.
Work in pairs.
Symptoms of hypothermia are subtle at first, but can quickly become serious. Make sure your crew works in teams of at least two people to help spot the early signs of hypothermia, such as intense shivering and confusion, and address them before they become life-threatening.
Pro tip: Equip your crew with two-way radios to call for help in the event of an emergency.
Protect your eyes.
Snow reflects over 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Exposure to light this bright can cause snow blindness, which is a painful sunburn of the cornea that can leave you temporarily blind for up to 72 hours. You can prevent snow blindness simply by wearing eye glasses with tinted lenses that block UV rays.
Pro tip: See how to pick the right safety glasses for the job.
Insulate your extremities.
Frigid temperatures decrease circulation to the outer limbs of the body, such as fingers and toes. Wear protective apparel like gloves and water-resistant boots to keep your extremities warm and dry. This will prevent serious conditions like frostbite and trench foot.
Read clothing labels.
Your body uses more energy to stay warm if your skin is wet. Choose a base layer of clothing made from moisture-wicking fabric, such as cotton or wool, to keep sweat from freezing. Layer on jackets and coveralls that are labeled water-resistant to help you stay dry when snow and sleet starts to fall.
Pro tip: Wear a heated hoodie beneath your water-resistant outer layer to keep your body warm from the core.
Shovel with care.
Shoveling snow can increase the risk of heart attack, especially in older individuals or those with certain health conditions. Begin shoveling right after snow stops falling since it will be lighter than snow that has time to freeze over. Stop shoveling immediately if you begin to feel light-headed or pain in your chest.
Pro tip: Using a snow shovel with a pan that is too large can lead to overexertion. Instead, pick a snow shovel that is proportional to your body size.
Take a break.
Another way to prevent cold-related illnesses or injuries is to simply take a break from working in the cold. Rest in warm areas at regular intervals, such as in your work van with the heat on. Drink warm beverages and give your body a chance to thaw.
Pro tip: Get tips to organize your work van and make room for additional cold weather supplies.
Wash your hands.
Working in cold weather can weaken the body’s immune system, making it easier for you and your crew to get sick on the job. This can lead to lost productivity due to time off work. Keep hand cleaners like sanitizers and disinfecting wipes on the job and use them regularly to prevent the spread of illnesses.
See what makes Ferguson.com the trusted source of safety gear and cold weather supplies for trade professionals. We have everything you need to keep yourself and your crew safe this winter.