Originally published on 26th February 2019
Updated 19th February 2020
How to Protect Workers from Cold Stress
Working outdoors in cold weather conditions can be dangerous, particularly for those in construction, agriculture, commercial fishing and maritime roles. Cold stress occurs when the body is unable to keep itself warm, and the internal body temperature drops to a dangerous low.
As outdoor temperatures drop below 5-8°C, the risk of developing cold stress increases and respiratory or cardiovascular health problems can occur. Cold stress includes any cold-related illness or injury such as hypothermia, chilblains, tissue damage, trench foot and frostbite. Cold weather workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) are important lines of defence against such health conditions.
Other Factors That Put You at a Higher Risk of Developing Cold Stress Include:
- Being physically unfit
- Having an underlying health condition or other illness
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Working in damp/wet conditions
- Working without proper cold weather PPE and workwear
- Being exposed to vibration from tools
In the UK alone, 168,000 cold-related deaths were recorded over the last five years and the UK also has the second highest “winter death rate” in Europe.
It is crucial that workers who are exposed to low temperatures or spend significant periods outdoors in cold weather take the necessary steps to protect themselves against the dangers of developing cold stress. Wearing protective clothing that traps body heat is a simple and effective way to manage working in extreme cold.
Cold Stress Infographic
Read our article on protecting outdoor workers in winter to gain a better understanding of the risks and how to reduce them. The dangers of working outside without appropriate cold weather workwear should not be underestimated. Take a look at the infographic created by EM Training Solutions below for some shocking statistics and further useful tips on how to keep your staff safe in icy conditions.
A Few Simple Steps Can Significantly Reduce the Risk of Cold Stress
Implementing any new policies or work practices takes time and it’s easy to overlook gaps in workplace systems and practices when there are so many conflicting demands. However, protecting the safety of your workers should be of paramount importance to you and your business.
With just a few small changes, you could significantly reduce the risks of cold weather working for your employees. Cold stress can result in serious health complications for your team and it will also impact your productivity levels, particularly if time off work is required. Make sure your team is aware of cold stress — what it is, the signs to look out for, the risk factors and how to avoid it.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to put safety systems in place and provide the necessary cold weather PPE and clothing to keep the risks of working in freezing temperatures to a minimum. Providing the correct PPE will also benefit your business in terms of productivity, reputation and legal compliance.
Are you prepared for the cold weeks ahead? Check out our extensive range of outdoor clothing and PPE. We stock a variety of sizes, fits and styles. And don’t forget to contact us and ask about personalising your clothing with your brand.