Winter weather hazards can catch us off guard, so winter workplace safety is crucial. When working outside, wearing the proper personal protective equipment such as boots, jackets, hats, facemasks and gloves helps protect workers against extreme winter weather conditions. In addition to wearing the proper PPE to work safely in, it’s important for workers to be able to detect the signs of skin dangers such as hypothermia, frostnip and frostbite.
- Hypothermia starts when the body temperature drops below 95° F (35° C).
- Symptoms begin with shivering, increased heart rate and rapid breathing.
- Symptoms increase with slurred speech, confusion, drowsiness, pulse drop, hallucinations and a loss of consciousness.
- Frostbite is freezing of the skin. Frostnip (the precursor to frostbite) and frostbite usually occur in commonly exposed areas such as the hands, feet or face.
- Frostbite causes redness of the skin, potentially turning the skin white and resulting in blisters.
- Frostbite can become severe enough to affect all layers of the skin and can result in loss of joint or muscle functionality.
Types of Winter Weather that Bring Increased Risk of Skin Danger
|• Blizzards||• Snow|
|• Ice Storms||• Sleet|
|• Lake Effect Storms||• Freezing Rain|
|• Snow Squalls||• Rain|
Winter Walking Safety for Slips, Trips and Fall Hazards
Surfaces are slippery when wet during the winter months. Snow, sleet and ice add major walking safety hazards. Here’s a quick reminder of recommended steps employers can take to ensure workplace safety:
- All walkways should be properly treated with salt or deicer.
- Ensure parking lots are plowed and offer a clear path to main building entrances.
- Encourage workers to wear proper shoes, such as boots with treads to grip.
- Provide rubber mats at doorway entrances and display “wet floor” signs near appropriate areas.
Additional Cold Weather Resources
Click here for a compilation of cold stress resources available through FCA International and the industry.
Safety is for Everyone – Amerisafe Group
This content is provided by the Amerisafe Group, which is FCA International’s safety partner. Amerisafe believes safety is more than just finding solutions to unsafe behavior by responding to workplace accidents. Safety is about identifying and preventing hazards from happening. Your FCA membership includes access to a Toolbox Talk library (click here to request your company’s access), and click here for more Amerisafe safety blogs.