#YHSafetyTips - Cold Stress

Posted by Kahla Livelsberger in #YHSafetyTips, Dec 14, 2016

Now that winter is here and temperatures are decreasing more each day, it becomes very important to keep your workers safe from Cold Stress. In this post, we will go over what can happen if you do not take the proper precautions and how to prevent hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

Cold Stress is extremely dangerous as it could lead to tissue damage, and possibly death. When the temperature becomes freezing cold, the body works harder to keep warm - causing your body to drive down the skin temperature and your internal temperature. A few things that contribute to cold stress are not staying dry, not dressing appropriately for the weather, being exhausted and poor physical condition. Some health conditions like hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes are risk factors.

HYPOTHERMIA
Symptoms:
- Stomping feet to generate heat
- As body temperature drops shivering will stop
- Become uncoordinated, confused, and disoriented
-May be unable to walk or stand
-Pupils become dilated
-Loss of consciousness
-Pulse and breathing slows down

Actions to take:
-Call 911 immediately
-Move worker to a dry warm area
-If help is more than 30 minutes away give them a warm sweetened drink if alert. Do not give a drink to anyone who is unconscious. Also, put warm bottles or hot packs in arm pits, sides of chest, and groin.
If worker is not breathing or has no pulse:
-Call 911 immediately
-Follow the same instructions for a conscious worker, but be sure not to give fluids
-Check pulse for 60 seconds
-If no pulse or breathing, continue rescue breathing. Start chest compressions ONLY if 911 operator instructs you too
-Reassess worker’s status frequently

FROSTBITE
Symptoms:
-Skin turns red and develops gray and white patches
-Affected area becomes numbs
-Area feels hard or firm and blisters could occur

Actions to take:
-Follow the same instructions as given for hypothermia
-Do not rub area
-Do not apply snow or water to area
-Do not break blisters
-Loosely cover & protect area
-Do not try to rewarm area
-Give warm and sweeten drink to worker if they are conscious

TRENCHFOOT
Symptoms:
-Redness, swelling, numbness, & blisters

Actions to take:
-Call 911 Immediately
-Remove the worker’s shoes and wet socks
-Dry their feet

To prevent cold stress, it is very important that all your workers are trained in safe work practices and know how to handle these situations. You should have engineering controls, like radiant heaters, to warm the workers. All your employees should be sure to use safe practices and dress properly for the climate they are working in, and keep extra clothing on hand in case you get wet.

For more detailed information visit OSHA or download this Quick Card from OSHA to provide to your workers.

Check back next week to learn about winches.

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