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Safeguarding Outdoor Workers During Winter Conditions

winter safety tips for industrial workers

Snow, icy road, wind chill, and freezing rain. These are not strangers to employees who work in outdoor or winter-affected environments. 

Employees working in outdoor environments during winter face unique challenges that demand stringent safety protocols. Disregarding the severity of extreme cold is not an option. According to the Government of Canada, each year in Canada, more than 80 people die from over-exposure to the cold. In addition, many more people suffer injuries resulting from hypothermia and frostbite. Therefore, it's paramount to adopt thorough safety measures designed for winter conditions to safeguard their well-being and productivity.

In this article, we would like to address some of the important safety protocols tailored to extremely cold winter conditions that are essential to protect employees' health and safety. 

winter safety for industrial workers outdoors


Understand Weather Conditions 

Safety in winter outdoor work relies on understanding weather conditions.   Stay informed via forecasts, tracking temperature shifts, wind chill, and precipitation. It is important to know the differences between different weather conditions and the consequences they may cause. Moreover, awareness of potential hazards, such as slippery surfaces caused by ice or snow, enables the use of proper footwear for traction. as each weather element poses specific risks. 

how to dress effectively in winter for extra warmth


Proper Dress Code

  • Dress in layers: Quality clothing designed for insulation effectively traps air to create a warm barrier around your body. We highly recommend dressing up in layers as they offer adaptability: You can easily remove or open a layer when wet or too warm. In addition, Opt for moisture-wicking materials like polyester or polypropylene found in thermal wear to keep skin dry. Additional layers should provide adequate insulation, like a jacket with adjustable features to manage heat.

  • Hat: Did you know that much of the body's heat escapes from the head, and exposed ears are especially susceptible to frostbite?  For employees working outside during cold months, wearing a hat is essential to stay warm.  If wearing a hard hat is necessary, it is a good idea to use an appropriate winter liner and readjust the headband for worker protection.

  • Feet: In chilly conditions, feet are among the first to feel the cold. Choosing the right sock or combination can keep your feet warm and dry. Thick socks offer insulation and a moisture-wicking inner layer paired with a thicker outer sock helps retain warmth. Selecting the appropriate winter work boots is also fundamental. Choose boots designed with insulation to protect against the cold, ensuring they are waterproof to shield from moisture. They should offer ample toe room to prevent constriction and maintain circulation. Don't forget to look for sturdy soles with excellent traction to prevent slips on icy surfaces, enhancing stability and reducing the risk of falls. 

winter safety tips for industrial workers equipment maintenance


Maintenance Checks on Equipment and Tools

Having frequent and thorough maintenance checks on outdoor equipment and tools during the winter months holds immense significance in ensuring efficiency, longevity, and, most importantly, safety. Cold temperatures can affect the functionality of equipment, causing parts to contract or become brittle, leading to potential failures. By conducting routine inspections, one can identify and rectify minor issues before they escalate, thus averting costly repairs or replacements. Moreover, maintenance checks during winter serve as a safety precaution. Outdoor tools and machinery, such as snow blowers or generators, are extensively used in colder seasons. Neglecting maintenance might result in hazardous situations, like malfunctioning parts or electrical failures, endangering both operators and bystanders. Regular checks ensure that safety mechanisms are functional, minimizing the risk of accidents.

winter safety tips for industrial workers outdoor heater


Invest in Commercial Outdoor Heaters 

Investing in robust commercial outdoor heaters can be a pivotal measure to protect outdoor workers amid the biting winter months. These heaters are effective in ensuring the well-being and productivity of employees by offering consistent warmth in outdoor work settings. Make sure to get quality heaters, engineered for outdoor durability, that effectively disperse heat across work areas. Don't forget about electrical safety by avoiding overloading outlets as it significantly reduces the potential for fire hazards.

winter safety tips for industrial workers work practice


Work Practices 

  • Frequent breaks: Working outdoors in winter can lead to rapid heat loss, increasing the risk of cold-related illnesses like hypothermia and frostbite. Therefore, it is a good idea to encourage scheduled breaks in warm areas to allow employees to warm up. Breaks also provide an opportunity for workers to rehydrate and refuel. Cold weather can lead to increased dehydration as the body works harder to stay warm. Taking frequent breaks ensures that workers have the chance to replenish fluids and energy levels.

  • Buddy system: Implementing a buddy system can significantly enhance safety for workers who work outdoors during cold months. Buddies can watch out for each other, identify signs of cold-related illnesses like hypothermia or frostbite, and promptly provide assistance if one exhibits symptoms or encounters an emergency situation. The buddy system can also offer emotional and psychological support by fostering camaraderie, reducing feelings of isolation, and boosting morale.

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