Cold Weather Alert

Posted on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

The combined effect of cold air and wind speed is expressed as wind-chill temperature. Over the next few days, outdoor wind-chill temperatures are expected to be well below –25C. At these low temperatures, work in outdoor environments can present a significant risk for workers performing such work when appropriate precautions are not taken. The result may be a cold injury such as frostnip (a mild form of cold injury that may occur when earlobes, noses, cheeks, fingers or toes are exposed to cold), frostbite (may occur with the freezing of body-tissue fluid) and/or hypothermia (the inability of the body to maintain a stable core body temperature during exposure to cold environments). Reducing the risk of cold injury can be accomplished by the use of appropriate protective equipment and adherence to safe work practices.  Suitable selection of protective clothing will depend on wind-chill temperature, level of activity and job design.

In terms of Safe Work Practices please consider:

•    Contact of bare skin with cold surfaces (especially metallic) should be avoided.
•    Nature of the activity.  For example, sitting or standing still for prolonged periods should be avoided.
•    Whenever possible, work should be carried out in areas protected from the wind.
•    Adequate liquid intake is essential to the production of body heat and the prevention of dehydration.
•    For warming purposes, hot beverages or soup are suggested. Coffee drinking should be limited; consumption of caffeine results in an increased loss of body heat due to increased blood circulation.

Please remember that during exposure to cold environments you should not ignore pain in the extremities or mild shivering and cold hands and feet, even though they do not necessarily mean that you are hypothermic; they most likely indicate that you are losing more heat than you are producing. These may be the first early warning of danger to cold stress.

If you require assistance regarding the selection of appropriate measures/controls for dealing with cold exposures in your work area, contact the Manager, Facilities Safety and Occupational Hygiene in Environmental Health and Safety (519) 824-4120 Ext 58860.


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