Strategies To Prevent Cold Weather Hazards When Working Outdoors

Winter months can be dangerous for those working outdoors but there are a number of measures that can be taken to guard against the hazards of cold stress. The following are OSHA-recommended safe work practices employers can implement to protect workers during winter months:

  • Scheduling jobs that expose workers to the cold weather in the warmer part of the day
  • Scheduling maintenance and repair jobs for warmer months
  • Avoiding exposure to extremely cold temperatures when possible
  • Limiting the amount of time spent outdoors on extremely cold days
  • Using relief workers to assign extra workers for long, demanding jobs
  • Providing warm areas for use during break periods
  • Providing warm liquids (no alcohol) to workers
  • Monitoring workers who are at risk of cold stress
  • Monitoring the weather conditions during a winter storm, having a reliable means of communicating with workers and being able to stop work or evacuate when necessary
  • Acclimatizing new workers and those returning after time away from work by gradually increasing their workload, and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment.
  • Providing workers with the proper tools and equipment to do their jobs
  • Developing work plans that identify potential hazards and the safety measures that will be used to protect workers
  • Having a means of communicating with workers, especially in remote areas
  •  Knowing how the community warns the public about severe weather: outdoor sirens, radio, and television
  • Following The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to stay informed about winter storms. If there is a winter storm watch, advisory or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities: NOAA Weather Radio