Protect Yourself from Winter Work Hazards
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Protect Yourself from Winter Work Hazards

More than 80 people die each year from cold overexposure, and many more suffer injuries resulting from trench foot, immersion foot, hypothermia, frostnip, and frostbite. Here are seven ways to protect yourself from old man winter.

1. Dress in Layers

This helps to create warm boundary layers around your body. It’s important to properly layer your clothing so that each outer layer is larger than the layer it surrounds. Otherwise, the outer layer will compress the inner layer, decreasing the effectiveness of the insulation properties. Inner layers should wick moisture from your body.

2. Keep Your Hat On

As most of us know, we lose a lot of head from the head. Ears are also easily susceptible to frostbite or nip. If you are required to wear a hard hat, make sure it has a proper winter liner and that the headband is adjusted to protect you.

3. Feet First

Your feet are often the first to feel the cold. Wear the right socks, or combination of socks, to keep your toes toasty. Keep in mind that once your socks become damp, they lost their insulation properties. Consider wearing a moisture-wicking inner sock and an insulating outer sock. Check the fit of your socks with your footwear. If your boots are too tight, you will lose crucial blood flow to your feet. But if they’re too loose, you will likely develop blisters. Tip: Bring an extra pair of socks to work to change if your feet get wet.

4. Stretching It

Along with proper winter clothing, do some light warm-up exercises to help protect your cold muscles from injury. But don’t push it too far. Adjust your pace of work. You may need time to come out of the cold to rewarm.

5. Watch for Frostbite

Areas to look out for include your fingertips, toes, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin. Frostbitten skin will look white and waxy feel numb. If you have frostbite, seek medical help right away. Don’t rub or massage the skin and don’t warm it up until you can keep it warm. Don’t apply direct heat to the area. Allow it to warm up gradually.

6. Watch for Hypothermia

Being in intense cold for a prolonged period of time can lower your core body temperature, leading to hypothermia. If you feel cold followed by pain in an exposed part of your body, it could be the first sign of hypothermia. Often, you won’t notice that you’re suffering from hypothermia. If you see that your coworker is no longer shivering, is not quite all there, and their pupils are dilated, these are signs of hypothermia. Seek medical attention immediately.


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