Employees working in extreme environments can experience an array of hazard inducing conditions, from physical and mental discomfort to life-threatening conditions. Temperatures that are either too hot or too cold can contribute to hypothermic or heat-related illnesses, as well as fatigue.
If your workers can’t eliminate exposure to harsh conditions all together, you should help them follow safe work practices to minimize their risk of hypothermia, heat stress, and other related illnesses. Employees who need to work in a harsh work environment should be aware of the tips for operating in extreme cold and extreme heat:
Working in Extreme Cold
- Be Familiar with “Clo” – “Clo”, short for clothing insulation, determines the amount of insulation that enables an individual at rest to preserve thermal equilibrium. It also accounts for a garment’s thermal resistivity, which determines the resistance of the garment to thermal loss. Learning about the Clo system would help dispel some of the misconceptions about working in cold weather and winter clothing.
- Work with a Team – A cold environment can produce many hazardous conditions, such as slippery ground and decreased visibility. Employees should never work by themselves in extreme weather conditions where self-rescue could be impeded. Instead, they should pair up with a colleague or join a group to stay safe.
- Monitor Each Other’s Conditions – Workers should monitor their peers for any kind of skin discoloration which could indicate frostbite. These conditions are easy to spot — swelling and white patches are clear warning signs that require an individual to undergo treatment. On top of that, an employee exhibiting signs of confusion, tiredness, or clumsiness should be encouraged to take a break.
Working in Extreme Heat
- Recognize Symptoms of a Heat-Related Illness – Employees should watch out for common symptoms of a heat-related illness, such as muscle ache, exhaustion, dizziness, vomiting, and rashes. Workers who see their team members exhibiting any of these behaviors or symptoms should escort their peers out of the job site for proper care and treatment.
- Minimize Exposure to Heat Stress – Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, taking frequent rest breaks, and reserving hard, physical labor for the coolest parts of the day are great ways to cut down the risk of heat stress.
- Adjust Clothing According to the Environment – Workers can stay comfortable under the heat by wearing loose-fitting, light-colored, and lightweight clothing.
What Employers Can Do for Their Workers
The company should implement a heat or cold stress prevention program that establishes:
- Worker training in the health effects, risks, and prevention of cold or heat-related illness
- Monitoring method or criteria for acting on heat wave or wind chill warnings
- A water supply plan that encourages hydration during hot days
- A plan to offer warm soups and drinks that helps prevent dehydration during cold days
- Emergency responses and first aid, which include investigating incidents of health-related illnesses and monitoring of worker symptoms
On top of these safe work practices, employees can stay protected when they’re wearing the right gear. Workers can protect their hands from harsh weather conditions by wearing gloves designed for the job they are doing in the environment they have to work.
As temperature continue to drop in the Northern Hemisphere, wearing the right gloves can make the difference between a safe day on the job and a potential injury resulting from the effects of extreme cold. The latest Ringers Cold Weather Glove Brochure is available for download to help you select the right glove for the job.
Click the link below to download the Cold Weather Glove Brochure now.