Most of the U.S. has experienced very cold temperatures this winter. MSHA recently issued a Cold Weather Alert. In the alert, it was noted that cold stress can result in hypothermia, frostbite or trench foot.
Some best practices MSHA has suggested to avoid cold stress injuries are:
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers.
- Wear several layers of clothing for insulation. The first layer should fit snugly against the skin and be made of a nonabsorbent material that wicks away water and keeps skin dry. Clothing should not be too tight as this may restrict movement resulting in a hazardous situation.
- Protect your ears, face, hands and feet in extremely cold or wet weather.
- Wear waterproof and insulated boots and clothing.
- Wear a hat to reduce the loss of body heat from your head.
- Have extra socks, gloves, hats, jacket, blankets, and a change of clothes available in case the weather becomes much worse or your clothes become wet.
- Use radiant heaters in break areas and limit the amount of time outside.
- Carry or make available a thermos of hot liquid.
- Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
- Avoid touching cold metal surfaces with bare skin.
- Maintain adequate hydration and nutritional requirements.