If you’re not prepared, getting caught in cold weather can have a chilling effect. But by wearing the right protective clothing, and working smart, you can stay safe when on the job in cold weather.
What to Wear
Keep the following recommendations in mind when working in cold environments:
- Wear at least three layers of clothing. An inner layer of wool, silk or synthetic to wick moisture away from the body. A middle layer of wool or synthetic to provide insulation even when wet. An outer layer that protects against wind and rain and allows some ventilation, to prevent overheating.
- Wear a hat or hood. Up to 40% of body heat can be lost when the head is left exposed.
- Wear insulated boots to keep your feet warm.
- Keep a change of dry clothing available in case your work clothes become wet.
- With the exception of the wicking layer, do not wear tight clothing.
It’s also important to be aware of the weather and make smarter decisions to stay safe.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which negatively affect blood circulation.
- Perform heavy work during the warmer parts of the day.
- Use the buddy system to keep an eye on each other, and watch for signs of cold stress like disorientation and slurred speech.
- Avoid fatigue since energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Take frequent breaks and consume warm, high calorie food and complex carbohydrates to maintain energy reserves.
- Drink plenty of liquids. It is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather.
- Shield work areas from drafts or wind to reduce wind chill.
- Use insulating material on equipment handles, especially metal handles, when temperatures drop below 30° F.
- Place heaters around work areas if possible.
- Stay warm, make smart decisions, and be prepared when working outside during the cold weather months.