Frigid Temperatures Threaten Worker Safety

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A second polar vortex is expected to sweep through the nation, reports Time. Frigid temperatures are likely to hit on Tuesday January 21 and may persist for the remainder of the month. What groups are most at risk?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, construction workers, landscapers, gas and oil operations workers, and postal workers, will feel the brunt of the extreme cold. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adds that dampness, pre-existing health conditions, and poor physical conditioning may increase risks of hypothermia and cold stress. Here are some ways outdoor workers can stay warm:

Dress For the Weather

Some materials are surprisingly ill-suited for the cold. Wet cotton, for example, provides little comfort and protection from freezing temperatures. Workers should favor synthetic fabrics instead; wool and silk also hold up well in all conditions, according to OSHA. The U.S. Department of labor also recommends wearing three layers of clothing and always wearing a hat or hood to retain the most body heat. Workers can lose as much as 40% of their own body heat without hat, hoods, and face coverings.

Finally, in addition to dressing for the weather, workers should take frequent breaks (warming up indoors if possible!) and drink plenty of water. Although it may be tempting to drink hot coffee, coffee will dehydrate employees faster in the frigid cold.

Minimize Manual, Hands-On Tasks

Cold weather can be especially troublesome for construction workers and electricians. Workers should be careful to remain protected from the cold, even when performing hands-on labor.

For example, if electrical workers need to adjust threaded standoffs or nut covers, they should use gloves with convenient grips instead of shedding gloves altogether. Workers should also insulate metal industrial handles and industrial knobs whenever possible.

Stay safe during the second-coming of the polar vortex. Equip workers with weather appropriate attire and encourage employees to take proper precautions when handling threaded standoffs and industrial handles outside.

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