Cold Weather Safety Tips for Outdoor Workers in 2019

Industrial Winter Safety

cold weather safety tips for outdoor workersStay safe with these cold weather safety tips for outdoor workers.

Cold Weather Safety Tips

  • Wear layered clothing
  • Stay hydrated, even when you think you are not sweating
  • Take regular breaks
  • Wear appropriate footwear
  • Understand signs and treatments for frostbite and hypothermia
  • Prepare your vehicle for winter driving
  • Clear snow and ice from walkways and paths

The leaves are falling and so is the temperature.  Winter will be here shortly.  While it is beautiful and enchanting, winter can pose some major hazards if you haven’t prepared for it.  Failing to recognize and respect the dangers of winter is not recommended.

Whether you are traveling through, working in, or enjoying the weather, the following cold weather safety tips for outdoor workers will ensure your safety and good health:

Wear Layered Clothing

Multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing allow the worker to adjust their comfort level and protection based on the current temperature.  Tight fitting clothes reduce blood circulation.  Many forget the danger of sunburn when it is cold outside, but it is always important to protect from the sun.  Wear a hat, scarf or face covering and always wear waterproof gloves.  The goal is to expose as little skin as possible.  Also, it is wise to keep a change of clothes with you in case your existing clothes get wet.   Being wet can increase the rate of heat loss from the body.

Stay Hydrated

It’s easy to forget the simple importance of hydration when it is cold outside.  It’s not like the steamy summer months when we know we are sweating.  You still sweat—even in cold temperatures. For optimal performance, keep the body hydrated with water.

Breaks are Good

When the weather is particularly cold and/or windy, regular breaks are important.  If possible, take a break inside or under shelter where you can warm up a bit.  If it gets very cold, get inside and warm up.

Wear Good Shoes

Wear proper footwear when tackling winter weather.  A pair of water resistant and insulated boots with rubber treads is important for industrial winter safety.  Slow your pace and shorten your steps when navigating snowy/icy walkways.

Know the Signs

Frostbite and hypothermia can set in unexpectedly.  Get inside if you begin to experience either.  If a co-worker seems to be manifesting signs of cold stress, help them get help immediately.  Be aware of those around you and take care of each other.

Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.

What to look for:

  • Numbness
  • White or grayish-yellow skin
  • Firm or waxy skin

What to do:

  • Go to a warm room/location.
  • Soak in warm water.
  • Use body heat to warm.
  • Do not massage or use a heating pad.

Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.

What to look for:

  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Fumbling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness

What to do:

  • Go to a warm room
  • Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin
  • Keep dry and stay wrapped up in warm blankets.  Do not neglect to cover the head and neck.

Proper Heat Ventilation

If using a non-electric heater, ensure that there is proper ventilation to let gasses like carbon monoxide escape.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States.

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • NEVER run generators indoors.
  • Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • NEVER use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • If your heat goes out, close off rooms you do not need, dress in layers of lightweight clothing, and wear a cap.

Prepare for Winter Driving

Top off your fluids, drive slowly and allow yourself additional time to travel.  Pay attention to changing road conditions.

  • Check your tires
  • Assess your battery
  • Top off your fluids (coolant, wiper fluid, oil, etc)
  • Have jumper cables
  • Pack a blanket/safety kit for emergencies

You never know when this preparation may save your life or the life of someone else.  This website is an excellent resource for winter preparation and survival, ready.gov.

Clear the Pathsnow melting mat cold weather safety tips for outdoor workers

Make sure that walkways, paths, stairs, and entries are free from snow and ice.  Do this as quickly as possible when a winter storm sets in.  Slips, trips, and falls will decrease dramatically when the path is clear.  Powerblanket offers a NEW method for clearing the path that does not use chemicals or salt, or require you to break your back shoveling.  Summerstep industrial snow melting mats use radiant heat technology to melt snow and ice on walkways, stairs and doorways, improving industrial winter safety.  Not only does Summerstep melt away the existing ice and snow, but as the storm continues, the path will stay clear as accumulating snow will instantly melt away.  Summerstep heated walkway mats can be linked together to match the length you need to ensure safe travels.  

Always use proper engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) required by your employer in all work conditions.

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Winter Safety Tips

In preparation for the winter months, it’s important to consider what measures you will need to take to exercise proper winter safety. Planning and preparing can save you significant money in the long run, protect your health, and prevent serious winter injuries. We suggest you consider the following winter safety tips as you plan how you will best maintain a safety during cold, snowy, or icy weather.

safe snow shoveling during winter

Winter Safety Tips

Winter Home Prep

Before the winter sets in, check your roof, doors, and windows for leaks and address needed repairs. Ensure seals around openings are intact and secure.

Clean out your rain gutters to help prevent ice dams from forming and damaging your gutters and home.

Give your heating system a check up to make sure it is clean, unobstructed, and serviceable. This is also a good time to replace or clean out heating vents and air intakes. Set your thermostat to the correct temperatures and heating schedules.

Check your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning properly and familiarize yourself with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Remove tree branches that are weakened or in danger of breaking and falling on structures during snowfall.

Shut off external water valves and sprinklers systems.

Winter storms can be very destructive for utility lines. Keep a sharp eye out for downed power lines and contact your utility company right away. Downed lines and melting snow or ice are an extremely dangerous combination. Never try to repair downed lines yourself, call the professionals!

Snow Shoveling Precautions

Purchase de-icing salts, grit, and snow shovels before the first snow strikes.

Before you start shoveling snow, make sure to warm up your body and muscles to help prevent injury.

Wear proper clothing and footwear while shoveling.

Use your chosen salt and grit mixture to help maintain traction as you shovel.

Take breaks to rest and warm up as necessary, especially during your first snow shoveling session of the season.

Winter Driving Tips

Watch the Forecast and Road Conditions

During the winter, consider downloading a weather app or signing up for mobile weather alerts. Keeping a close eye on mother nature will help you plan and possibly avoid driving during heavy storms or deep freezes. For longer drives, make sure you look ahead at the weather and road conditions along your entire route.

Many municipalities provide public access to transportation traffic cameras and road condition maps. Take a good look at your route before heading out the door so you can be prepared for the winter conditions that await you.

Winter Car Prep

It is important to prepare your car for winter before sub-freezing temperatures hit.

Check the temperature rating of your windshield fluid to ensure it will keep flowing when it drops below 32° F.

Cold temperatures can cause the air in your tires to compress and lose pressure. Invest in an inexpensive tire pressure gauge and keep it in your car so you can easily check your tires even when you are out and about.

Make sure you also have a durable ice scraper in your car before snow hits.

Even minor car trouble on the side of an icy road can spell real trouble for motorists. Before making longer drives during the winter, pack extra food and water in case of emergencies. Your body uses a lot more energy during the winter to stay warm, and a pack of emergency supplies will be desperately needed.

Have emergency roadside numbers and insurance info readily available for unforeseen winter car troubles. Familiarize yourself with your coverage and know what options you have at hand before you need help getting your car out of a snowbank!

Depending upon where you live and work, consider switching to winter tires during the snowy season.

Safe Car Warming Practices

Popular Mechanics advises to only let your car warm up for as long as you need to get the defroster up and running. Be sure to NEVER warm up your car in an enclosed area or garage to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

For vehicles with conventional keys, you should also avoid starting your car and walking away while it warms up. Unattended, warming up cars are a favorite target for wintertime car thieves! You should also educate yourself about your state’s anti-idling laws to help you avoid costly tickets.

Consider using a heated windshield defroster to save you time and hassle every time you need to leave your house. Windshield defrosters can also help warm your vehicles cabin so your car is ready to go when you are.

Workplace Winter Safety Tips

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Be familiar with and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and get immediate medical attention for any symptoms. Employers should schedule outside work in shorter increments and break up large projects into smaller tasks. In addition, employers should establish a warm area for employees to take breaks from outside work. 

Never wear wet clothing during cold temperatures. Wet clothing loses its ability to insulate and quickly transmits cold temperature directly to the wearer’s body. It is always worth keeping a spare set of dry clothes around (especially socks, gloves, or underclothing).

Personal Protective Equipment

Winter conditions usually require changes to the footwear you typically use. Choose shoes and boots that provide adequate warmth and traction for ice and snow.

Look closely at the tags on your protective clothing and make sure you know which pieces are weather resistant, waterproof, or cold temperature rated.

When working outside, ensure you and your employees wear appropriate clothing for your local weather conditions. Appropriate winter clothing includes: waterproof boots, wind resistant jackets, gloves/mittens, hats, and wraps for faces and ears.

Powerblanket Winter Safety Solutions

Powerblanket specializes in winter safety solutions to keep you safe and restore your peace of mind.

Windshield Defrosters

Powerblanket warmguard windshield defroster

Powerblanket’s WarmGuard Windshield Heater safely heats your car’s windshield and prevents snow and ice accumulation. Additionally, this product will raise the temperature of your car’s interior and make your car comfortable to drive without waiting around, so you can get to work on time. Our windshield heaters are also good for the environment, by eliminating wasted gasoline and preventing exhaust emissions which pollute our air and contribute to winter smog.

Snow Melting Mats

Powerblanket Summerstep heated snow melting mats

Summerstep heated mats are designed to be left outside all winter long. By piecing together our attachable mats, you can create the coverage you need to fit your location. Our Summerstep industrial snow melting mats and residential snow melting mats melt approximately 2 inches of snow per hour while operating. Save yourself from the time-consuming and backbreaking work of snow shoveling. Protect your concrete and landscaping from harsh de-icing salts. By adding Summerstep to your winter safety plans, you can restore your peace of mind every time you set foot outside the door.

Contact Powerblanket today to find the perfect ice injury prevention for your needs at 866.945.4203 or [email protected]