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7 Winter Weather Worker Safety Tips

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Nothing ruins productivity like having a jobsite full of workers who can’t work because a blizzard came through and you were caught unaware. Be prepared by keeping an eye on the forecast and knowing when winter weather is going to strike.

The best method is to check the national weather forecast every morning and several times as the day progresses. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a great source to get timely weather reports on unpredictable changes in weather conditions.

This will ensure workers are given enough time and adequate warning to secure work areas, vacate the worksite, and drive home in relatively safe road conditions.


Check jobsites

The jobsite site – including any scaffolding and ladders, should be checked before work begins. This will ensure that there are no snowdrifts, ice, fallen trees, or other objects and debris scattered which can delay work or inadvertently create hazards for workers.

Be sure to stress the importance of fall precaution and protection to workers when icy conditions exist.

Spread salt or sand melt over any icy areas to help with traction for workers and vehicles. If an area can’t be cleared, be sure to mark that area and advise workers to use caution, especially when carrying materials and tools!

Remove any icicles that may have formed to prevent falling object hazards.


Provide a Warm Area for Breaks

Workers expend more energy when working in cold weather to keep their bodies warm. Make sure you have a heated area – like a tent, trailer or indoor area for workers to warm up from the cold – Our Vent Tents and Heaters make an excellent solution to this problem!

Encourage workers to take frequent breaks to warm up, drink something warm and change out of wet clothing!

Keep an eye on your workers for signs of fatigue, frostbite or hypothermia.


Wear Proper PPE

When winter weather conditions are present, be sure workers are wearing necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

In addition to the normal required PPE, the following items should be considered when working in the cold on a job site:

Using liners in hard hats will help keep workers warm and prevent heat from escaping.

When selecting hand wear, Gloves and mittens should be selected to provide enough dexterity to work with tools and materials. Remind workers to always keep their gloves on, especially when climbing ladders, scaffolding, or getting onto trucks or other equipment. Frostbite can occur immediately if workers touch extremely cold metal with bare hands.

Encourage workers to wear waterproof boots, and to bring EXTRA socks to protect against the cold (and wet!).

Goggles, safety glasses, and facemasks can be treated with anti-fog spray to prevent their vision from being obstructed.

Our full line of PPE can help keep your workers warm and safe this winter!


Wear Layers!

Workers should wear warm clothing to protect against the cold and maintain proper levels of body heat. Wearing appropriate outer clothing to ensure their clothes do not get wet from the snow, would shield workers from being exposed to frostbite, cold stress, and hypothermia.

Keeping warm is one of the most important things when working in cold weather. The key is finding a balance of wearing enough layers to stay warm while still being able to maintain a good range of mobility to perform your work.

Layer clothing with some moisture-wicking thermals on your inner layer and have a waterproof outer layer to prevent moisture from soaking into your clothing. If clothing gets wet, it’s important to change into dry clothes to avoid losing body heat.

Limit the amount of skin exposed to cold temperatures with careful attention to the extremities by wearing knit hats and earmuffs for the head, wool socks for the feet, balaclavas for the face, and gloves and mittens for the hands.


In its Cold Stress Safety and Health Guide, OSHA offers the following guidance:

Dressing properly is extremely important to preventing cold stress. The type of fabric worn also makes a difference. Cotton loses its insulation value when it becomes wet. Wool, silk and most synthetics, on the other hand, retain their insulation even when wet. The following are recommendations for working in cold environments:

  • Wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing. Layering provides better insulation. Do not wear tight-fitting clothing. (An inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic to keep moisture away from the body; a middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet; an outer wind and rain protection layer that allows some ventilation to prevent overheating.)
  • Wear a hat or hood to help keep your whole body warmer. Hats reduce the amount of body heat that escapes from your head.
  • Use a knit mask to cover the face and mouth (if needed).
  • Protect hands with insulated gloves (water resistant if necessary).
  • Wear insulated and waterproof boots (or other footwear).


Put Emergency Kits in Work Vehicles 

Make sure each of your company’s work trucks / vehicles are equipped with winter weather emergency kits. Your kits should include an ice scraper, shovel, blankets or space blankets, water, emergency flares, matches non-perishable snacks, tow straps, and a backup battery for your cell phone. It’s also a good idea to have some sand, cat litter, or salt to help with traction in case you get stuck. Encourage your workers to create emergency kits for their personal vehicles.

Employers should also have in place emergency and first aid kits at strategic locations on the worksite so that in case of accidents workers can easily use them to help their co-workers until emergency services arrive to provide professional medical treatment as required.

Here is a basic kit, courtesy of the VA Dept of Emergency Management

Be cautious when driving in snow and ice. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles to avoid accidents.

Emergency kits should also contain flashlights as power outages are possible in severe winter weather.


Educate your Crew

Educate workers on the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Even when employers do everything they can to protect workers, issues can still arise. Supervisors and workers need to know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite so that if anyone shows these signs, they can receive immediate medical attention. When workers know what to look for, it’s more likely they will seek medical treatment sooner.

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