As Massachusetts digs out from yet another snowstorm, the region is now bracing for the coldest temperatures of the year – below zero in many locations.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers advice to help employers protect employees who work outdoors in cold environments, since prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as frostbite and hypothermia.
Some tips include:
- Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
- Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
- Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
- Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system - work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
- Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.
Good luck and stay as warm and dry as you can.