When performing tasks in very cold temperatures, there can be significant impacts on workers’ health, and to be honest, it can even affect their productivity. To don the proper equipment is not only a question of comfort when working but is also about reducing the risks of work accidents.
What are the impacts of the cold on your work?
- Reduced manual dexterity
- Reduced vigilance
- Slow decision-making
It is imperative to take into account the cold at work as it can apply to all work environments, both indoor and outdoor. Here are a few examples of high-risk environments:
- Outside: construction work, transport, agriculture or public services, to only name a few.
- Inside: cold storage, meat packing, slaughterhouse and other refrigerated locations or areas insufficiently heated.
What causes you to lose body heat?
In cold weather, heat loss can be caused by:
- Sweat evaporation
- Contact with water, an object or the cold air
- Radiation in the vicinity
How to reduce the risks of being cold at work?
A good way of reducing the risks is to dress appropriately when working in environments where the temperatures are 4°C and lower.
Workwear must be selected according to the temperature, the activity level and the tasks to perform.
How can you improve the well-being of your employees working in cold environments?
There are many ways to improve your employees’ comfort and performance when working in an environment where the cold can become an issue. Take advantage of these tips to discuss with your workers and maybe revise some work methods.
- Multiple layers provide better protection than a thick single-layer garment. Also, the outer shell must be insulating and wicking humidity away from the skin to keep it dry at all times.
However, keep in mind that too many layers can impact your flexibility and mobility.
- Garments must be easy to put on and remove to ensure the worker can control their body temperature and remain comfortable.
- Clothing should be kept clean, as dirt fills the air pockets found in the fibers, which cancels insulation.
- Under a hard hat, the head must be covered by a bonnet or toque to prevent heat loss and excessive sweating.
- If fine dexterity is not required, the worker needs to wear gloves, or even better, mitts. Remember that wool and synthetic fibers retain heat, even when wet.
- As for footwear, leather boots lined with felt with a footbed and rubber outsoles are better adapted for heavy work in cold environments as leather is porous, allowing the boots to “breathe”.
- Polypropylene socks help keep the feet dry and warm by wicking away sweat from the skin’s surface.
A good idea is to have several pairs of socks on hand to change them during the day.
- It is preferable to separate eye protection from the nose and mouth in extremely cold conditions to prevent the humidity from exhaled air to fog and freeze the glasses.
As in any safe work environment, prevention is the key to success.
Is it possible to implement a comprehensive and professional strategy in a cold environment?
Yes, it is possible with SPI! Find out today about our service offering!