Safety in the Cold

        Your Responsibilities During Inclement Weather


There are several precautions that employees should take while working in cold or dangerous weather:

     • Take breaks to get warm.

     • Drink plenty of liquids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

     • Avoid smoking, which constricts blood flow to skin.

     • Be aware of any cold weather related side-effects that their medication
     may have.

     • Know and understand symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries.

     • Stretch before physical work to prevent muscle pulls and injuries.

     • Wear protective clothing when it does not interfere with personal protective
     gear and equipment:

          o At least three layers: something close to the skin to wick moisture away,
          an insulation layer and an outer wind and waterproof layer.

          o Outer layers should be loose to allow ventilation and prevent overheating.

          o Hat or hood when not wearing a hard hat, or under the hard hat
          when necessary.

          o Insulated boots.

          o Gloves — not only can the cold cause injuries to exposed skin, but cold
          hands also make workers more prone to injury when handling machinery
          or other objects.

(Note: In general, OSHA requires employers to pay only for protective gear that is out of the ordinary; employees are responsible for everyday clothing, defined as items that can, and regularly are, worn away from the workplace.)

Since your employees work almost exclusively outdoors, the weather plays a large role in their daily working conditions. Sometimes, working in rainy, cold or snowy conditions is simply unavoidable, so it is important that your employees are prepared and educated on handling the conditions safely. Inclement weather can also impact other responsibilities as an employer, so you need to be prepared as well.