OSHA Winter Safety Tips

It’s natural to picture the deserts and sunshine when you imagine the southwest, but our members in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, California, Nevada and even Arizona have to brave winter too.  The winter weather may offer a relief from the long hot hours of the summer, but it’s still crucial for members to protect themselves from the elements. Being in freezing or near freezing temperatures for an extended period can result in health problems like, frostbite, hypothermia and trench foot. The Center for Construction Research and Training and OSHA recommend following these steps to stay safe.

1. Dress for the weather

OSHA recommends wearing inner and outer layers that will keep you dry, along with a hat or hood that covers your ears, and a knit mask (if needed). Waterproof and insulated gloves and boots are also crucial in most outdoor work environments. Carrying extra clothes is also beneficial in case the ones you are wearing get wet.

2. Be proactive and alert

When working in a cold environment for a long period, it’s wise to learn the signs and symptoms of cold-weather illnesses. Work in pairs so a coworker can spot danger signs. Remember, you are also at higher risk if you take certain medications, are in poor physical condition, or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. Nationwide, there were 20,520 workplace injuries due to falls from ice, sleet and snow that resulted in a day or more away from work in 2016. Identify potholes and cracks that may cause issues in inclement weather. Arrange for repairs before it snows. Check that drain pipes, grate covers and catch basins are not clogged with debris.

3. Drink the right liquids

Even in the winter months it’s important to stay hydrated. Fight dehydration and drink plenty of warm, sweet liquids such as sports drinks, soups, and sugar water. Avoid liquids like coffee, tea, soda, and hot chocolate, as caffeine causes your body to lose heat.