How to Stay Safe When Working in Cold Conditions
As a bout of cold weather sweeps across the UK, we realise the importance of keeping warm and looking after ourselves and others.
If you work in cold temperatures, or much of your work is outdoors, it’s even more important to protect yourself at work.
Being in very cold temperatures can cause hypothermia which can be fatal, and other problems including frostbite and chilblains. Strong winds and dampness can make it feel even colder.
The Health and Safety Executive’s advisory committee say that workers are at particular risk from the cold when the air temperature is less than 10 degrees. Add on a wind speed of 20mph and this can make the real temperature feel like 0 degrees.
Who is particularly at risk from the cold?
Any workers who work in cold environments such as those who work in construction, agriculture, fishing, and those who work in cold indoor environments, whether they work with frozen produce or other cold work processes.
Cold temperatures cause the blood to thicken, which increase blood pressure, and it also causes narrowing of the airways, so people who have lung diseases or existing heart conditions can be particularly vulnerable to the cold.
What are the effects of long-term exposure to cold temperatures?
Working in cold temperatures has been linked to respiratory disorders, musculoskeletal problems, heart problems, and skin disorders.
Reducing the risks
The Health and Safety Executive advise that employers should take steps to minimise their employees’ exposure to the cold by providing protective clothing, and allowing them regular breaks, and access to hot drinks.
Recommendations for employees
To stay safe in cold temperatures at work you should:
Tips for making your workplace safer in cold weather
The winter can be unpleasant. Aside from starting work in the dark, you go home in the dark, and it’s cold, wet, and windy. Some work tasks can be more hazardous in the winter and you should plan accordingly. Here’s how to make work safer in the winter: